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Port Huron, Michigan
Young Thomas Edison, in front of the Blue Water Bridge
Young Thomas Edison, in front of the Blue Water Bridge
Maritime Capital of the Great Lakes, Gateway to Canada
Location within St. Clair county (left) and Michigan (right)
Location within St. Clair county (left) and Michigan (right)
Country United States
State Michigan
County St. Clair
Incorporated 1857
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Total 12.26 sq mi (31.75 km2)
 • Land 8.08 sq mi (20.93 km2)
 • Water 4.18 sq mi (10.83 km2)
604 ft (184 m)
 • Total 30,184
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,462.0/sq mi (950.68/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code 810
FIPS code 26-65820
GNIS feature ID 1624839

Port Huron is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of St. Clair County. The population was 30,184 at the 2010 census. The city is adjacent to Port Huron Township but is administratively autonomous. Located along the St. Clair River, it is connected to Point Edward, Ontario in Canada via the Blue Water Bridge. The city lies at the southern end of Lake Huron and is the easternmost point on land in Michigan. Port Huron is home to two paper mills; Mueller Brass; and many businesses related to tourism and the automotive industry. The city features a historic downtown area, boardwalk, marina, museum, lighthouse, and the McMorran Place arena and entertainment complex.


In 1814 following the War of 1812, the United States established Fort Gratiot at the base of Lake Huron. French colonists had a temporary trading post and fort at this site in the 17th century, but this developed as the first settled European-American population in the area. Until 1836, an Ojibwa reservation occupied land in part of the modern area of Port Huron. They were removed to west of the Mississippi in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

In 1857, Port Huron became incorporated. Its population grew rapidly after the 1850s due a high rate of immigration attracted by the successful shipbuilding and lumber trade. In 1859 the city had a total of 4.031 residents; 1855 were of foreign birth or their children. By 1870, Port Huron's population exceeded that of surrounding villages. In 1871, the State Supreme Court designated Port Huron as the county seat.

On October 8, 1871, the city, as well as places north in Sanilac and Huron counties, burned in the Port Huron Fire of 1871. A series of other fires leveled Holland and Manistee, Michigan, as well as Peshtigo, Wisconsin and Chicago on the same day. The Thumb Fire that occurred a decade later, also engulfed Port Huron.

In 1895 the village of Fort Gratiot, in the vicinity of the former Fort Gratiot, was annexed by the city of Port Huron.

The following historic sites have been recognized by the State of Michigan through its historic marker program.

  • Fort St. Joseph. The fort was built in 1686 by the French explorer Duluth. This fort was the second European settlement in lower Michigan. This post guarded the upper end of the St. Clair River, the vital waterway joining Lake Erie and Lake Huron. Intended by the French to bar English traders from the upper lakes, the fort in 1687 was the base of a garrison of French and Indians. In 1688 the French abandoned this fort. The site was incorporated into Fort Gratiot in 1814. A park has been established at the former site of the fort.
  • Fort Gratiot Light. The Fort Gratiot Lighthouse was built in 1829 to replace a tower destroyed by a storm. In the 1860s workers extended the tower to its present height of 84 feet (26 m). The light, automated in 1933, continues to guide shipping on Lake Huron into the narrow and swift-flowing St. Clair River. It was the first lighthouse established in the State of Michigan.
  • Lightship Huron. From 1935 until 1970, the Huron was stationed in southern Lake Huron to mark dangerous shoals. After 1940 the Huron was the only lightship operating on the Great Lakes. Retired from Coast Guard Service in 1970, she was presented to the City of Port Huron in 1971.
  • Grand Trunk Railway Depot. The depot, which is now part of the Port Huron Museum, is where 12-year-old Thomas Edison departed daily on the Port Huron – Detroit run. In 1859, the railroad's first year of operation, Edison convinced the railroad company to let him sell newspapers and confections on the daily trips. He became so successful that he soon placed two newsboys on other Grand Trunks running to Detroit. He made enough money to support himself and to buy chemicals and other experimental materials.
  • Port Huron Public Library. In 1902 the city of Port Huron secured money from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to erect a municipal library. In 1904, a grand Beaux-Arts-style structure was built at a cost of $45,000. At its dedication, Melvil Dewey, creator of a widely used book classification system, delivered the opening address. The Port Huron Public Library served in its original capacity for over sixty years. In 1967, a larger public library was constructed. The following year the former library was renovated and re-opened as the Port Huron Museum of Arts and History. An addition was constructed in 1988.
  • Harrington Hotel. The Hotel opened in 1896 and is a blend of Romanesque, Classical and Queen Anne architecture. The hotel closed in 1986, but a group of investors bought the structure that same year to convert it into housing for senior citizens. The Harrington Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Grand Trunk Western Railroad Tunnel. The tunnel was opened in 1891 and links Port Huron with Canada. This international submarine railway tunnel was the first international tunnel in the world. The tunnel's total length is 6,025 feet (1,836 m), with 2,290 feet (700 m) underwater. The tunnel operations were electrified in 1908; half a century later they were converted to use diesel fuel. Tracks were lowered in 1949 to accommodate larger freight cars. During World War I, a plot to blast the tunnel was foiled. A new tunnel has since been opened.

In 1962, a convention of the Students for a Democratic Society was held in Lakeport, a community several miles north of the city. While there, they developed the Port Huron Statement, the SDS manifesto.

The city received the All-America City Award in 1955 and 2005.

Historic photographs


  • According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.26 square miles (31.75 km2), of which 8.08 square miles (20.93 km2) is land and 4.18 square miles (10.83 km2) is water.
  • It is considered to be part of the Thumb area of Mid Michigan, and Southeast Michigan. St. Clair county is part of the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical area.
    • Port Huron is the principal city of the region known as Blue Water Area, a subregion of the Thumb.
  • The easternmost point (on land) of Michigan can be found in Port Huron, just south of the Blue Water Bridge.


Climate data for Port Huron NOAA Station
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 64
Average high °F (°C) 31.3
Daily mean °F (°C) 24.3
Average low °F (°C) 17.4
Record low °F (°C) −19
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.96
Snowfall inches (cm) 11.0
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 13.0 10.0 10.5 12.9 11.7 10.7 10.1 10.7 10.8 11.9 12.5 13.4 138.2
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 7.4 5.9 2.9 0.6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.8 5.3 22.9
Source: NOAA


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 4,371
1870 5,973 36.7%
1880 8,883 48.7%
1890 13,543 52.5%
1900 19,158 41.5%
1910 18,863 −1.5%
1920 25,944 37.5%
1930 31,361 20.9%
1940 32,759 4.5%
1950 35,725 9.1%
1960 36,084 1.0%
1970 35,794 −0.8%
1980 33,981 −5.1%
1990 33,694 −0.8%
2000 32,338 −4.0%
2010 30,184 −6.7%
Est. 2015 29,330 −2.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

Port Huron is the largest city in the Thumb area, and is a center of industry and trade for the region.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 30,184 people, 12,177 households, and 7,311 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,735.6 inhabitants per square mile (1,442.3/km2). There were 13,871 housing units at an average density of 1,716.7 per square mile (662.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 84.0% White, 9.1% African American, 0.7% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 1.2% from other races, and 4.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.4% of the population.

There were 12,177 households of which 32.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.5% were married couples living together, 19.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.0% were non-families. 33.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.03.

The median age in the city was 35.8 years. 25.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.3% were from 25 to 44; 25.2% were from 45 to 64; and 13.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.8% male and 52.2% female.


  • There are a number of museums in town. The Port Huron Museum is a series of four museums, namely:
  • The Great Lakes Maritime Center offers a lot of opportunities to learn about the history of the Great Lakes. Freighters pass within 100' of the wide glass windows, and there is an underwater live camera feed.
  • The School for Strings presents over 50 concerts each year with its Fiddle Club, Faculty and Student Ensembles. It provides a premier music education across the area with more than half its graduates going on to professional studies in major music school across the country.
  • There are a number of recurring local events. A calendar is available.
  • Each year, the Port Huron to Mackinac Boat Race is held, with a starting point in Port Huron north of the Blue Water Bridge. The race finishes at Mackinac Island, Michigan, crossing Lake Huron. It is considered by some boaters to be a companion to the longer Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac.
  • The Port Huron Civic Theatre began in 1956 by a group of theater lovers. Since 1983, it has used McMorran Place for its productions.
  • The fall brings the Blue Water Film Festival. Which has had notables such as Chris Gore, Sid Haig, Curtis Armstrong, Timothy Busfield, Loni Love, Dave Coulier and more.
  • The main branch of the St. Clair County Library is located in downtown Port Huron. The library contains more than 285,300 books, nearly 200 magazine subscriptions, and over 22,700 books on tape, books on compact disc, music compact discs, cassettes, and videos.
  • The International Symphony Orchestra of Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan perform events at McMorran Place and the Imperial Oil Centre for the Performing Arts in Sarnia.
  • Encompassing over 100 homes and buildings, the Olde Town Historic District is Port Huron's first and only residential historic district. The Olde Town Historic Neighborhood Association is an organization working to preserve historic architecture in Port Huron. They have hosted an annual historic home tour, flower plantings and beautification and neighborhood Christmas decorations.
  • The Welkin Base Ball Club is Port Huron's historic vintage base ball team. Modeled on Port Huron's first baseball club from 1867, the Welkin Base Ball Club re-creates the time of base ball's roots. Playing other vintage ball clubs of the area, the Welkins strive to entertain and educate spectators about Port Huron's past.


The City of Port Huron owns and operates 17 waterfront areas containing 102 acres (0.4 km2) and 3.5 miles (5.6 km) of water frontage. This includes three public beaches and six parks with picnic facilities. The city also has nine scenic turnout sites containing over 250 parking spaces. Port Huron operates the largest municipal marina system in the state and has five separate locations for boat mooring.

The City has 14 public parks, 4 smaller-sized “tot” parks, 19 playgrounds (City owned), 9 playgrounds (School owned), 33 tennis courts, including 16 at schools and 6 indoors, 3 public beaches, 4 public swimming pools, 1 community center, and 1 public parkway.


See also: Port Huron (Amtrak station)
Blue Water Bridge
Blue Water Bridge

Major highways

Two Interstates terminate at the Port Huron-to-Sarnia Blue Water Bridge, and they meet Highway 402.

  • I-69 enters the area from the west, coming from Lansing and Flint, terminating at the approach to the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron. (Once fully completed, the mainline of I-69 will span from Brownsville, Texas to Port Huron, Michigan.)
  • I-94 enters the Port Huron area from the southwest, having traversed the entire Metro Detroit region, and, along with I-69, terminates at the approach to the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron. On the Canadian side of the border, in Sarnia, Ontario, the route heads easterly designated as Highway 402.
  • BL I-94
  • BL I-69
  • M-25 follows the Lake Huron/Saginaw Bay shoreline, beginning in Bay City and ending in at junction with I-94/I-69, and BL I-94/BL I-69 on the north side of the city.
  • M-29 begins at BL I-94 in Marysville just south of the city and continues southerly.
  • M-136 runs west from M-25 to M-19.
  • Highway 402 begins in Sarnia, Ontario, across the river from Port Huron and at the eastern end of the Blue Water Bridge.

Mass transit

The Blue Water Area Transit system, created in 1976, includes eight routes in the Port Huron area. Blue Water Transit operates the Blue Water Trolley, which provides a one-hour tour of various local points of interest. Recently, Blue Water Area Transit received a grant from the state to buy new buses for a route between the Port Huron hub and New Baltimore about 30 miles (48 km) south. Commuters could take an express bus traveling down I-94 and get off at the 23 Mile Road SMART Bus stop. At the same time, another bus will travel down M-25 and M-29 and pick up commuters in Marysville, Saint Clair and Algonac before ending up at the same stop on 23 Mile Road. This new system will help people in St. Clair County travel through Metro Detroit.


  • Amtrak provides intercity passenger rail service on the Blue Water route from Chicago to Port Huron (Amtrak station).
  • Two class one freight railroads operate in Port Huron – Canadian National Railway (CN) and CSX Transportation (CSXT) with international connections via the St. Clair Tunnel.
  • Via Rail train service from Toronto to Sarnia (part of the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor) is also available; however, this train does not cross the river, requiring passengers to make arrangements for road travel to Port Huron.


St. Clair County International Airport is a public airport located five miles (8 km) southwest of the central business district.

Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport, located across the St. Clair River in Sarnia, Ontario, offers daily service to Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport operated by Air Georgian, a regional affiliate of Air Canada.

The Bluewater Bridge from the South along the St. Clair River (Port Huron, MI to Sarnia, ON)

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