Ludington, Michigan

Ludington is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 8,357. It is the county seat of Mason County.

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 Area, and Manistee National Forest. Ludington is also the home port of the SS Badger, 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. In summer, the city hosts quite a few large events. Examples are one of the largest Gus Macker basketball tournaments (with 25,500 spectators), the Ludington Area Jaycees Freedom Festival (July 4), the Lakestride Half Marathon in June, and the West Shore Art League's Art Fair. As a result of its many attractions (based on AAA's 2005 TripTik requests), Ludington is the fifth-most-popular tourist city in Michigan, behind Mackinaw City, Traverse City, Muskegon, and Sault Ste. Marie.


In 1675, 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 he brought his family to live there as well and began a small community known as Pere Marquette village. 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 who owned some of the logging operations in the late 19th century. The area boom in the late 1800s was due to these sawmills and also the discovery of salt deposits.

By 1892, 162 million board feet (382,000 m³) 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 1897, the Pere Marquette Railroad constructed 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.



Two major routes serve the area along with a state trunkline highway and a minor business route.

US 10 enters the city from the east, connecting with Clare and Bay City. It continues across Lake Michigan into Wisconsin via the SS Badger, providing carferry service to Manitowoc.
US 31 is a freeway to the south of a junction with US-10 east of Ludington. US-31 and US-10 run concurrently for about 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.


As of the census of 2000, there were 8,357 people, 3,690 households, and 2,166 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,482.2 per square mile (957.5/km²). There were 4,227 housing units at an average density of 1,255.5/sq mi (484.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.02% White, 0.97% African American, 0.92% Native American, 0.22% Asian, 1.06% from other races, and 1.81% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.15% of the population.

There were 3,690 households out of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.2% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.3% were non-families. 36.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 19.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 84.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,089, and the median income for a family was $36,333. Males had a median income of $31,970 versus $22,809 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,215. About 12.9% of families and 16.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.7% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those age 65 or over.


Just south of Ludington is the Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant, which generates pumped storage hydroelectricity. In town, there are Whitehall Industries Inc. (aluminum extrusion and aluminum fabrication), The Dow Chemical Company (manufacturer of calcium chloride products), Great Lakes Castings Corporation, Amptech, Inc., and Carrom Company. Ludington has had a construction boom in luxury condominumssince about 2000, especially around the marina.


Ludington is home to four radio stations and one newspaper. The original radio station was WKLA, which continues today with a talk radio format at 1450 AM. In the 1970s, WKLA-FM (Adult Contemporary) and WKZC-FM (Country, licensed to nearby Scottville) were added. In 1999, WMOM-FM (Top 40, licensed to Pentwater) signed on the air. The Ludington Daily News has been serving the Ludington Area for decades as a daily publication. The Daily News website records over 4,000 visitors each day.


Ludington's downtown retail is focused on the city's tourism and includes clothing stores, art galleries, and jewelry stores. Unique local businesses include Fort Daul and Maude's Garage. Maude's Garage (formerly Maude's Gallery) is located in a converted 1930s auto repair shop. Fort Daul, a gift shop, has operated for several decades on the corner of Ludington Ave. and James St. Exterior is fashioned after a wooden fort and includes several murals of early American scenes on its façade. Now, Fort Daul has been downsized to a smaller location on James Street, and is now called Daul's Twisted Arrow. Ludington's history is preserved and documented in a series of murals done by the Ludington Mural Society ("Town of Murals")


Several local restaurants are located in the downtown area of Ludington. A particular favorite of both residents and tourists alike is ice cream specialist House of Flavors located on Ludington Ave. The Old Hamlin, on Ludington Ave., has been family owned and operated by a Greek family since the early 1940s. It has its own bakery where homemade pies and breads are made. Across the street is Luciano's, an Italian Ristorante, which was opened in 1998 and is located next to Fort Daul. A couple of blocks south on a site overlooking the Ludington Municipal Marina, is P.M. Steamers. The restaurant was named after the steam-driven Pere Marquette Car Ferries that once traversed the Great Lakes. The Jamesport Brewing Co. opened in 2000 in what was previously an abandoned storefront of the Jamesport Building on James St. Although it is not in the downtown area, Scotty's is yet another of Ludington's local dining establishments. Chuckwagon is the local favorite pizza place on Lakeshore Drive.


Ludington Municipal Marina

Elected officials

  • Mayor: John Henderson
  • Clerk: Deb Luskin
  • Treasurer: Mary Reeds-Mortensen
  • 1st Ward Councilor: Paul Peterson
  • 2nd Ward Councilor: Greg Dykstra
  • 3rd Ward Councilor: Brent Scott
  • 4th Ward Councilor: Dave Weston
  • 5th Ward Councilor: Pete Engblade
  • 6th Ward Councilor: Gary Castonia
  • Councilor At-Large: Kaye Ferguson-Holman



  • Franklin Elementary (Grades K-2)
  • Pere Marquette Elementary (Preschool)
  • Foster Elementary (Grades 3-5)
  • Lakeview Elementary (Grades K-2)
  • Ludington Area Catholic (Private, Grades K-6)

Junior/senior high

  • OJ DeJonge Middle School (Grades 6-8)
  • Ludington High School (the Orioles)

Secondary West Shore Community College is a two year institution with many degrees including nursing, crimial justice and others. Located about 17 miles from Ludington, it is a prime choice for high school graduates looking to stay close to home while pursuing higher education.

Notable residents

See also


External links

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