Oldest Towns in Michigan 

Oldest Towns in Michigan 

Michigan is one of the most populous states in America. It is widely known for its Great Lakes shoreline, the Masonic Temple Theatre, and the Detroit Tigers! One of the most interesting about Michigan is the fact that it is home to several old towns that have stood the rest of time. 

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at a list of some of the oldest towns in the state of Michigan. 

Let’s dive right in! 

4. Sault Ste. Marie

Established: 1668
County: Chippewa County
Population: 13,337

Sault Ste. MariePhoto Source: View of Sault Ste. Marie

It’s worth mentioning that Sault Ste. Marie is technically a city and not a town, but it is definitely the oldest place to live in the state of Michigan! This town was founded before America was, and is one of the most populous places in the Upper Peninsula. 

Sault Ste. Marie’s name came from the rapids nearby, which used to be called Les Saults de Sainte Marie. The word ‘Sault’ refers to the rapids, while Sainte Marie refers to the river itself. This river is what separates Ontario from Michigan! Sault Ste. Marie was started a Jesuit mission by two French missionaries, and remains the oldest European settlement in Michigan today. 

Did you know? 

Sault St. Marie is home to a wide variety of wildlife, like black bears, moose, red foxes, and North American beavers.

3. St. Ignace

Established: 1671
County: Mackinac
Population: 2,306

St. IgnacePhoto Source: View of downtown St. Ignace 

St. Ignace is the second oldest town in Michigan. It was founded by Jacques Marquette, who was a priest and explorer. Marquette named it after St. Ignatius of Loyola, though the area was previously occupied by Native American tribes for several centuries. However, French colonists arrived and eventually settled in and took over the land that is now known as St. Ignace. 

Did you know?

St. Ignace is laid along the western shoreline of Lake Huron. This small town is only 2.65 square miles in area, making it one of the smallest towns in Michigan.

2. Marquette

Established: 1844
County: Marquette County
Population: 20,629

MarquettePhoto Source: Statue of James Marquette 

Marquette was named after a man named James Marquette, who was known for being a French Jesuit missionary. Just like several other old towns in Michigan, this one was previously occupied by Anishinaabe Council of Three Fires, who were members of the Ojibwe tribe. 

This town only began to develop later in 1844. This was because Jacob Houghton and William Burt realized that there were iron deposits in an area near the Teal Lake of Marquette. As time went on, a mining company was formed, and this town became the leading iron shipping town. 

Did you know? 

Marquette became a popular summer vacation spot in the late 19th century. This town was so popular to holiday in that Great Lakes passenger ships brought in hundreds of people every year to visit it.

1. Mackinac Island

Established: Early 18th Century
County: Mackinac County
Population: 583

Mackinac IslandPhoto Source: Map of Mackinac Island

Even though Mackinac Island is technically an island and not really a town, it is one of the oldest occupied places in Michigan. The island’s official name in Odawa, the language spoken by Ojibwan people, is Michilimackinac, which means Great Turtle. 

Did you know?

A fort called Fort Mackinac was built on this island by British soldiers during the American Revolutionary War. Two wars were also fought on this island in 1812 during the War of 1812.


In this article, we walked you through a list of the top 4 oldest towns in Michigan. While a couple of the places mentioned are technically cities, it’s safe to say that they are some of the oldest places to live in the state of Michigan!  

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