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Petoskey, Michigan
City of Petoskey
Little Traverse Bay at sunset.jpg
Northern Michigan Hospital Petoskey Michigan.jpg
Petoskey Michigan Public Library.jpg
Petoskey Michigan Panorama Looking North US131.jpg
Petoskey Michigan Sign US31.jpg
From left to right: The Little Traverse Bay at sunset, the Northern Michigan Regional Hospital, a panorama from US 131, a sign on US 31, the Crooked tree art center, and the Bear River which flows through Petoskey; the Mitchell Street Bridge is in the background.
Location within Emmet County
Location within Emmet County
Petoskey, Michigan is located in Michigan
Petoskey, Michigan
Petoskey, Michigan
Location in Michigan
Country United States
State Michigan
County Emmet
Incorporated 1879 (village)
1895 (city)
 • Type Mayor–council
 • Total 5.34 sq mi (13.82 km2)
 • Land 5.13 sq mi (13.29 km2)
 • Water 0.20 sq mi (0.52 km2)
669 ft (202 m)
 • Total 5,670
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,121.37/sq mi (433.01/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
Area code(s) 231
FIPS code 26-63820
GNIS feature ID 0634731

Petoskey ( pe-TAH-skee) is a city and coastal resort community in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was estimated at 5,670 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Emmet County, located at the northern end of the Lower Peninsula.


By 1876, the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad had built a line north to Petoskey. Petoskey became the county seat of Emmet County in 1902.
By 1876, the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad had built a line north to Petoskey. Petoskey became the county seat of Emmet County in 1902.

Odawa Inhabitants

The Little Traverse Bay area was long inhabited by indigenous peoples, including the Odawa people. The name "Petoskey" is said to mean "where the light shines through the clouds" in the language of the Odawa. After the 1836 Treaty of Washington, Odawa Chief Ignatius Petosega (1787–1885) took the opportunity to purchase lands near the Bear River. Petosega's father was Antoine Carre, a French Canadian fur trader and his mother was Odawa.

Early Presbyterian Missions

By the 1850s, several religious groups had established missions near the Little Traverse Bay. The Mormons had been based at Beaver Island, the Jesuit missionaries had been based at L'arbor Croche and Michilimackinac, with a Catholic presence in Harbor Springs, then known as "Little Traverse". Andrew Porter, a Presbyterian missionary, arrived at the village of Bear River (as it was then called) in 1852.

Pioneer Commercial Interests

Amos Fox and Hirem Obed Rose were pioneer entrepreneurs who had made money both during the California Gold Rush and at Northport selling lumber and goods to passing ships. Originally based at Northport, Rose and Fox (or Fox & Rose) expanded their business interests to Charlevoix and Petoskey in the 1850s. Rose made additional money by being a part of a business partnership that extended the railroad from Walton Junction to Traverse City. H.O. Rose, along with Archibald Buttars, established a general merchandise business in Petoskey. After the partnership split, Mr. Rose relocated to Petoskey and in 1873 started Petoskey's first dock. When the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad was about to be extended into the Bay View area, Mr Rose purchased much land in that area as well as trolley cars to enable transport from Petoskey to Bay View. Rose contributed to many firsts of Petoskey, including the first dock, the first general store, extensive lime quarries (Michigan Limestone Company, or Petoskey Lime Company ), erection of the Arlington Hotel, lumbering enterprises, first president of the village, harbor improvements in 1893, and officiating at early commemorative public events. Rose's influence on the city are also commemorated by the naming of the H. O. Rose room at the Perry Hotel.

Later History

In the late 19th century, Petoskey was also the location where 50,000 passenger pigeon birds were killed daily in massive hunts, leading to their complete extinction in the early 20th century. A state historical marker commemorates the events, including the last great nesting at Crooked Lake in 1878. One hunter was reputed to have personally killed "a million birds" and earned $60,000, the equivalent of $1 million today.

Petoskey is also famous for a high concentration of Petoskey stones, the state stone of Michigan. Notable natives are information theorist Claude Shannon, Civil War historian Bruce Catton and actress Megan Boone, star of the NBC television series The Blacklist (2013). The city is the boyhood home of singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens.

This city was the northern terminus of the Chicago and West Michigan Railway.

The Petoskey stone is named after Odawa Chief Ignatius Petosega (1787–1885). With members descended from the numerous bands in northern Michigan, the Little Traverse Bay Band is a federally recognized tribe that has its headquarters at nearby Harbor Springs, Michigan. It also owns and operates a gaming casino in Petoskey.


The Bear River flows through Petoskey; the Mitchell Street Bridge is in the background.

Part of Northern Michigan, Petoskey is on the southeast shore of the Little Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Bear River. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.29 square miles (13.70 km2), of which 5.09 square miles (13.18 km2) is land and 0.20 square miles (0.52 km2) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,815
1890 2,872 58.2%
1900 5,285 84.0%
1910 4,778 −9.6%
1920 5,064 6.0%
1930 5,740 13.3%
1940 6,019 4.9%
1950 6,468 7.5%
1960 6,138 −5.1%
1970 6,342 3.3%
1980 6,097 −3.9%
1990 6,056 −0.7%
2000 6,080 0.4%
2010 5,670 −6.7%
2019 (est.) 5,756 1.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
City Hall

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 5,670 people, 2,538 households, and 1,319 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,113.9 inhabitants per square mile (430.1/km2). There were 3,359 housing units at an average density of 659.9 per square mile (254.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.7% White, 0.7% African American, 4.7% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.9% of the population.

There were 2,538 households, of which 24.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.7% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 48.0% were non-families. 39.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 2.81.

The median age in the city was 39.8 years. 19.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 11.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.5% were from 25 to 44; 28.1% were from 45 to 64; and 16.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.3% male and 52.7% female.


The Little Traverse History Museum is housed in the former Chicago and West Michigan Railroad depot.
Petoskey Marina


  • The nearest airports with scheduled passenger service are in Pellston Regional Airport and Traverse City Cherry Capital Airport.


  • Indian Trails provides daily intercity bus service between St. Ignace and East Lansing, Michigan and between Grand Rapids, Michigan and Petoskey. Transfer between the two lines is possible in Petoskey.
  • The EMGO/SRR bus service runs Monday through Friday, from Petoskey, Mackinaw City, Harbor Springs, and to multiple locations in Emmet County with flexible routes within many communities along the way.


  • Freight rail service to Petoskey is limited and provided by the Tuscola and Saginaw Bay Railway (TSBY); however, the tracks are owned by the state of Michigan in order to preserve rail service in northern Michigan. Freight traffic includes plastic pellets delivered to a rail/truck transload facility for Petoskey Plastics. Occasional passenger/special excursion trains to Petoskey occur every now and then.

Historically, the Pennsylvania Railroad's Northern Arrow, the Pere Marquette Railway's Resort Special and other trains provided passenger traffic to Petoskey and Bay View, Michigan from as far as Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Detroit but these were discontinued in the late 20th century. The Pere Marquette trains (and later the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway) used its station, and the Pennsylvania Railroad its own separate station. The last Chesapeake and Ohio (successor to the Pere Marquette) trains were discontinued by 1963, thus ending scheduled passenger train service to Petoskey.


  • The City of Petoskey Department of Parks and Recreation operates a 144-slip marina located in Bayfront Park. The marina offers seasonal and transient slips, gasoline, diesel fuel, boat launch, wireless internet, 30/50 AMP power, water, pump-out, restroom/showers, playground and adjacent park grounds. The Gaslight District is connected to Bayfront Park via a pedestrian tunnel. The marina received initial designation as a "Michigan Clean Marina" in May 2007 and was recertified in 2010.

Major highways

  • US 31 is a major highway running through the heart of the city. It continues southerly toward Charlevoix, Traverse City and Muskegon and northerly to a terminus near Mackinaw City.
  • US 131 has its northern terminus in the city and continues southerly toward Cadillac and Grand Rapids.
  • M-119, accessible off US 31 east of the city and Bay View, continues around the north side of Little Traverse Bay to Harbor Springs and then to Cross Village.
  • C-58 begins at C-81 just east of the city and continues to Wolverine.
  • C-81 is a north–south route passing just to the east of the city.



This climatic region has large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Petoskey has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.

Climate data for Petoskey, Michigan
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 28
Average low °F (°C) 15
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.1
Source: Weatherbase


Among the many colleges in Michigan includes North Central Michigan College, located in Petoskey. The public school system consists of a high school, a middle school, and four elementary schools. Additionally, Petoskey Public Schools has a Montessori education building.

Notable people

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