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Ludington, Michigan
City of Ludington
Mason County Courthouse in Ludington
Location within Mason County
Location within Mason County
Ludington, Michigan is located in Michigan
Ludington, Michigan
Ludington, Michigan
Location in Michigan
Country United States
State Michigan
County Mason
Settled 1847
Incorporated 1873
 • Type Mayor–council
 • Total 3.60 sq mi (9.34 km2)
 • Land 3.36 sq mi (8.70 km2)
 • Water 0.24 sq mi (0.63 km2)
591 ft (180 m)
 • Total 8,076
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,413.10/sq mi (931.61/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
Area code(s) 231
FIPS code 26-49640
GNIS feature ID 0631201
Downtown Ludington, MI
"The Clock Tower" Park.

Ludington ( luh-DING-tən) is the largest city and county seat of Mason County in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 8,076.

Ludington is a harbor town located on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Pere Marquette River. Many people come to Ludington year round for recreation, including boating and swimming on Lake Michigan, Hamlin Lake, and other smaller inland lakes, as well as hunting, fishing, and camping. Nearby are Ludington State Park (which includes the Big Sable Point Light), Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness, and Manistee National Forest. Ludington is also the home port of the SS Badger, a vehicle and passenger ferry with daily service in the summer across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Watching the Badger come into port in the evening from the end of the north breakwall by the Ludington lighthouse is a favorite local pastime.

Ludington has multiple golf and disc golf courses. In summer, the city hosts one of the largest Gus Macker basketball tournaments (with 35,500 spectators), the Ludington Area Jaycees Freedom Festival (July 4), the Lakestride Half Marathon in June, and the West Shore Art League's Art Fair. In 2005, as ranked by AAA, Ludington was the fifth-most-popular tourist city in Michigan, behind Mackinaw City, Traverse City, Muskegon, and Sault Ste. Marie.


In 1675, Father Jacques Marquette, French missionary and explorer, died and was laid to rest here. A memorial and large iron cross mark the location.

In 1845, Burr Caswell moved to the area near the mouth of the Pere Marquette River as a location for trapping and fishing. In July 1847 when he brought his family to live there he became the first permanent resident of European ancestry. Two years later they built a two-story wood-framed house on their farm. After the organization of Mason County in 1855, the first floor of this building was converted into the county's first courthouse. Restored in 1976 by the Mason County Historical Society, the structure stands today as a part of White Pine Village, a museum consisting of several restored and replica Mason County buildings (see external links).

The town was originally named Pere Marquette, then later named after the industrialist James Ludington, whose logging operations the village built up around. Ludington was incorporated as a City in 1873, the same year that the County seat was moved from the Village of Lincoln to the City of Ludington. The area boom in the late 19th century was due to these sawmills and also the discovery of salt deposits.

By 1892, 162 million board feet (382,000 cubic metres (13,500,000 cu ft)) of lumber and 52 million wood shingles had been produced by the Ludington sawmills. With all of this commerce occurring, Ludington became a major Great Lakes shipping port.

In 1875, the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad (F&PM) began cross lake shipping operations with the sidewheel steamer John Sherman. It became apparent quite early that the John Sherman was not large enough to handle the volume of freight and the F&PM Railroad contracted with the Goodrich Line of Steamers to handle the break bulk freight out of the Port of Ludington.

In 1897, the F&PM railroad constructed the first steel car ferry, the Pere Marquette. This was the beginning of the creation of a fleet of ferries to continue the rail cargo across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The fleet was also expanded to carry cars and passengers across the lake. By the mid-1950s, Ludington had become the largest car ferry port in the world. Unfortunately, due to disuse and declining industry, this fleet eventually dwindled. Currently only one carferry, the SS Badger, makes regular trips across the lake from Ludington, one of only two lake-crossing car ferries on Lake Michigan.

During the late 1910s and early 1920s, Ludington was the home of the Ludington Mariners minor league baseball team. A team of the same name currently plays "old time base ball" in historical reenactments of the original version of the game.



Climate data for Ludington
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 57
Average high °F (°C) 29
Average low °F (°C) 18
Record low °F (°C) −15
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.04
Source: Weather Channel,


All four highways in Mason County go through, or near Ludington.

  • US 10 / LMCT Spur enters the city from the east, connecting with Clare, Midland and Bay City. It continues across Lake Michigan into Wisconsin via the SS Badger, providing carferry service to Manitowoc.
  • US 31 / LMCT is a freeway to the south of a junction with US 10 east of Ludington. US 31 and US 10 run concurrently for about five miles (8.0 km) east of Ludington before US 31 turns northerly again at Scottville.

  • Bus. US 31 is a section of the former US 31 along Pere Marquette Highway east of the city.
  • M-116 is a spur route providing access to Ludington State Park, to the north of the city, from US 10 downtown.
  • USBR 20 / USBR 35 both run through Ludington; USBR 20 ends at the SS Badger.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 4,190
1890 7,517 79.4%
1900 7,166 −4.7%
1910 9,132 27.4%
1920 8,810 −3.5%
1930 8,898 1.0%
1940 8,701 −2.2%
1950 9,506 9.3%
1960 9,421 −0.9%
1970 9,021 −4.2%
1980 8,937 −0.9%
1990 8,507 −4.8%
2000 8,357 −1.8%
2010 8,076 −3.4%
2019 (est.) 8,108 0.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
2012 Estimate

2010 census

As of the 2010 census, there were 8,076 people, 3,549 households, and 2,004 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,396.4 inhabitants per square mile (925.3/km2). There were 4,432 housing units at an average density of 1,315.1 per square mile (507.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.2% White, 1.1% African American, 1.4% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 2.0% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.3% of the population.

There were 3,549 households, of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.8% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.5% were non-families. 37.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.87.

The median age in the city was 43 years. 21.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.7% were from 25 to 44; 26.7% were from 45 to 64; and 21.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 45.8% male and 54.2% female.


Ludington's downtown retail is focused on the city's tourism and includes art galleries, antique stores, clothing stores and jewelry stores. In the summer time when ice cream is a favorite, you will find many tourist hanging around the House of Flavors - Michigan's largest ice cream manufacturer.



Students in Ludington attend Ludington Area Schools. Students attend Ludington Elementary School (grades PreK-5), O.J. DeJonge Middle School (grades 6-8), and Ludington High School (grades 9-12). Ludington's teams are known as the "Orioles".

Notable events

  • The Port of Ludington Maritime Museum was opened June 10, 2017. It is housed in the former U.S. Coast Guard Station, now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Guinness world records

  • Guinness world record of ice cream dessert over a half mile long on June 11, 2016 - see House of Flavors record
  • Guinness world record of 1,387 sand angels at Stearns Park Beach on June 10, 2017.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Ludington para niños

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