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Escanaba [es-ka-NAH-ba] is a city in the U.S. state of Michiganmarker, located in the banana belt on the state's Upper Peninsulamarker. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 13,140, making it the third-largest city in the Upper Peninsula after Marquettemarker and Sault Ste.marker Mariemarker. It is the county seat of Delta Countymarker.

There is also Escanaba Townshipmarker, which is north of the city and is not adjacent to it, although a portion of the urban area around the city extends into the township. Both are named for the Escanaba Rivermarker that flows into the Little Bay de Nocmarker of Lake Michiganmarker just north of the city at .


The word "Escanaba" roughly translates from various regional native languages to "land of the red buck" while others maintain that it refers to "flat rock". Escanaba was an Ojibwa village in the early 19th century. As an American settlement, Escanaba began as a port town in the mid 1800s, gaining importance to the Union as a shipping point for iron ore, lumber and copper during the Civil War. In his poem "The Song of Hiawatha", Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described how Hiawatha "crossed the rushing Esconaba" referring to the river. Located on Little Bay de Nocmarker at the northern edge of Lake Michiganmarker, Escanaba continues to serve as an important shipping point for iron ore to other Great Lakes ports, especially south to Chicagomarker and northern Indiana. The local paper mill, for many years Mead Corporation's Publishing Paper Division, is currently operated by NewPage Corporation; located on the outskirts of the city alongside the Escanaba River, it is now the areas largest employer.

As shipping increased, a lighthouse was needed to warn of a sand shoals that reached out into Little Bay de Noc from Sand Point, a sandspit located just south of and adjacent to the harbor area. The United States Lighthouse Service approved construction of the Sand Point Lighthousemarker at a cost of $11,000. Construction began in the fall of 1867 and was completed in early spring 1868. It was deactivated in 1939, and was used by the United States Coast Guard to house seaman assigned to Escanaba. The building was completely restored to its original design in the late 1980s, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The historic House of Ludington, downtown Escanaba.
The House of Ludington is a landmark historic hotel in downtown Escanaba. Originally built in 1865 as the Gaynor House Hotel, it was renamed after lumberman Nelson Ludington 1871. It was rebuilt as a brick structure in the Queen Anne Style in 1883, becoming the New Ludington Hotel.

Bay de Noc Community College, a public 2-year college, was founded in the city in 1962.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 42.8 km² (16.5 mi²). 32.8 km² (12.7 mi²) of it is land and 10.0 km² (3.8 mi²) of it (23.32%) is water. Escanaba is home to one the safest natural harbors in the upper Great Lakes, which makes it a natural destination for boaters. Ludington Park, located along the lake shore, is one the of largest city parks in Michigan.


The city is served by Delta County Airportmarker, with flights daily to Minneapolis/St.Paul and Detroit via Northwest Airlink


City Hall and Library
As of the census of 2000, there were 13,140 people, 5,800 households, and 3,294 families residing in the city. The population density was 400.7/km² (1,038.3/mi²). There were 6,258 housing units at an average density of 190.9/km² (494.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.66% White, 0.11% African American, 2.61% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.18% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.66% of the population. 17.0% were of German, 16.5% French, 11.4% French Canadian, 8.8% Swedish, 6.4% Irish and 5.2% English ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 5,800 households out of which 26.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.2% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.2% were non-families. 37.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 21.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 87.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,125, and the median income for a family was $36,995. Males had a median income of $32,310 versus $21,204 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,589. About 10.8% of families and 13.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.7% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.

Escanaba is located in Michigan Congressional District 1; its current Representative in Congress is Bart Stupak (D), a former Michigan State Trooper.


Although politically a part of the state of Michigan, Escanaba and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan have closer cultural ties to the state of Wisconsinmarker. Tourism has become significant for the local economy. Tourist draws include Lake Michiganmarker beaches and local fishing and hunting opportunities. Most visitors come from Wisconsin and Illinoismarker.

In January 1968, Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi's daughter was married in Escanaba at St. Anne's Church. Upon finding out his then-unwed daughter was pregnant, Lombardi, who was vacationing in Florida at the time, insisted she drive to Michigan to get married rather than doing it Green Baymarker, in order to keep the news out of the papers.

Escanaba is the home to the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center, The Waterfront Art Festival, The Escanaba City Band, The Players de Noc, The Bay de Noc Choral Society and many smaller arts organizations, art galleries and musical performing groups.

Local radio stations include KMB Broadcasting's WDBC 680 AM (adult standards) and WYKX 104.7 FM (country music), Lakes Radio's WCHT 600 AM (news/talk), WGLQ 97.1 FM (adult top 40), WCMM 102.5 FM (country), and WGKL 105.5 FM (oldies), and standalone WMXG 106.3 FM (classic hits). Escanaba is also served by low-power translator stations of WNMU translator W296AX from Marquette, MI (at 107.1 FM), WPFFmarker translator W254AG from Sturgeon Bay, WI (at 98.7 FM), and WHWL translator W261AI from Marquette, MI (at 100.1 FM). WJMN-TVmarker, the local television station on channel 3, is mostly a satellite of WFRVmarker in Green Bay and carries CBS programming. WLUCmarker-TV in Marquette also operates a translator station in Escanaba on channel 14.


Escanaba has a mall called the Delta Plaza Mall, a small enclosed shopping mall which features JCPenney and ShopKo as its anchor store. Although it is successful, its biggest retailer is Wal-Martmarker. The other retailers in the town are Menards, K-mart, Walgreens, and The Tractor Supply Company. In the downtown district, there are smaller shops, including The Record Rack, T & T True Value Hardware, St. Vincent De Paul, Ernie's Irish Pub among others. Eateries include: Hereford and Hops, Rosy's Diner, and The 8th Street Coffee House.

Confusion with Flat Rock (lower peninsula)

Since the name Escanaba may be derived from "Flat Rock" and another city in Michigan exists with such a name, errors on maps of Michigan are still common. On most online maps the location of Flat Rock is on J Road between 20th and 21st. In addition, a school named "Flat Rock Elementary School" exists in both the Upper (Delta County) and Lower peninsula (Wayne County), sometimes causing confusion in reporting of MEAP scores and other standardized test results.

The Flat Rock Elementary school in Delta Co. was closed a few years ago

In Media and Other

Escanaba was the location for both the story & parts of the filming of Escanaba in da Moonlight, a 2001 film starring Michigan resident Jeff Daniels.

In the film MASH, Escanaba is one of the towns listed on the 4077th's signpost; it is not on the more famous signpost from the television series that was donated to the Smithsonian Institutionmarker.

Escanaba is mentioned in the mystery science theater 3000 episode 513 "The Brain That Wouldn't Die", Crow makes the joke over a scene of a strip club with no strippers "A night on the town in Escanaba, Michigan."

Kevin Tapani, a major league baseball player, was from Escanaba. He pitched in the 1991 World Series for the Minnesota Twins.

Peter Davis, renowned pilot, is from Escanaba.

Escanaba schools, along with many others around the Upper Peninsula, consider the first day of hunting season an "unofficial" holiday and school is closed. It is known as "Deer Day."


  1. Mac McClelland, More for Your Money, Michigan Land Use Institute, February 22, 2004, Accessed July 15, 2009.
  2. "Flat Rock Michigan" entered into mapquest, Accessed June 7, 2007
  3. Flat Rock (Delta County) from Google Maps.
  4. Delta County Schools

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