The village is situated on an expansive plauteau along with much of Northern Michigan. The Boardman River runs through the village.
Kalkaska is considered to be part of Northern Michigan.
There were 881 households out of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.3% were married couples living together, 18.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.6% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the village the population was spread out with 26.1% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 88.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.5 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $27,891, and the median income for a family was $33,651. Males had a median income of $26,901 versus $19,333 for females. The per capita income for the village was $13,028. About 15.3% of families and 16.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.7% of those under age 18 and 19.4% of those age 65 or over.
On July 5, 1908, a fire began in the middle of the business block and burned most of the stores. Local photographer E. L. Beebe made a number of photographs of the fire, and the resulting postcards were widely sold, and can still be found today. Two years later, in 1910 another fire started in downtown Kalkaska. Again, in 1925 downtown Kalkaska was devastated by the largest fire since the Fire of 1908.
In 1916, the noted author Ernest Hemingway visited and fished in Kalkaska, and later immortalized the town in his story "The Battler". A historical marker has been placed at the Rugg Pond Dam, on the Rapid River, where Hemingway reportedly fished one night from the power house.
On July 10, 1951, the Kalkaska State Bank was robbed by an armed man, who fled and later attempted to escape on foot through a huge swampy area of the nearby National Forest. After three days of what was termed the largest manhunt in Northern Michigan history, involving the FBI and local and state authorities, the gunman was captured south of the town. Named Raymond J. Turcotte, he had a long string of prior convictions, including manslaughter. Turcotte confessed to the bank robbery and served 18 years in the Michigan State Prison at Jackson, Michigan including a term for escape in 1961.
Discovery of natural gas and oil in the around the 1970s lead to significant growth for the village, however the growth has since subsided.
In 1993, the Kalkaska schools made national headlines when a financial crisis resulted in a two month-long closure. Subsequent funding reform improved the outlook for Kalkaska and similar small rural districts in Michigan.
In addition the village has several parks, including the newly expanded KART trail which is planned to be connected with the TART Trail.
Fisherman are attracted to Kalkaska by the many lakes and the Boardman, Rapid, and Manistee Rivers. Kalkaska has held the National Trout Festival in the last week of April each year since 1933. There is a giant statue of a brook trout in the town square. New York Times featured author Jim Harrison wrote about the Trout Festival in his book Just Before Dark: Collected Non-fiction, Clark City Press, 1991, ISBN 0-944439-33-0.
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