Alpena, Michigan

Alpena, Michigan

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Alpena, Michigan
native_name =
settlement_type = City
nickname =
motto = A warm and friendly port

imagesize = 250px
image_caption = The Alpena Light at the Alpena Municipal Marina


image_shield =


image_shield =

mapsize = 250px
map_caption = Location of Alpena within Alpena County, Michigan

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = Michigan
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Alpena
subdivision_type3 =
subdivision_name3 =
subdivision_type4 =
subdivision_name4 =
government_type =
leader_title = Mayor
leader_name = Carol Shafto
leader_title1 = City manager
leader_name1 = Thad Taylor
leader_title2 =
leader_name2 =
leader_title3 =
leader_name3 =
established_title = Animickee
established_date = 1840
established_title2 =
established_date2 =
established_title3 = Alpena
established_date3 = 1871
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 23.5
area_total_sq_mi = 9.1
area_land_km2 = 21.7
area_land_sq_mi = 8.4
area_water_km2 = 1.8
area_water_sq_mi = 0.7
area_water_percent = 7.71
area_urban_km2 =
area_urban_sq_mi =
area_metro_km2 =
area_metro_sq_mi =
population_as_of = 2000
population_note =
population_total = 11304
population_density_km2 = 520.8
population_density_sq_mi = 1348.9
population_metro =
population_density_metro_km2 =
population_density_metro_sq_mi =
population_urban =
population_density_urban_km2 =
population_density_urban_sq_mi =
timezone = EST
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = EDT
utc_offset_DST = -4
latd = 45 |latm = 3 |lats = 42 |latNS = N
longd = 83 |longm = 25 |longs = 58 |longEW = W
elevation_m = 180
elevation_ft = 591
postal_code_type = ZIP code
postal_code = 49707
area_code = 989
website = []
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 26-01740GR|2
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 0620017GR|3
footnotes =
Alpena is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Alpena County.GR|6 It is considered to be part of Northern Michigan. The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is located offshore near the city. The population was 11,304 at the 2000 census, as well as a large population of visitors in the summer.

Despite its small population, it is by far the largest city in sparsely-populated Northeast Michigan lower peninsula, serving as its commercial and cultural hub. It is considered to be one of the two anchor cities of Northern Michigan, along with Traverse City. The Alpena Regional Medical Center is a federally-designated rural regional medical referral center, and is the largest employer in the city. [ [ Alpena Regional Medical Center] ]


The region, known as the "Sunrise Side" from its location on the east shoreline of Michigan, was first a site of commercial fishing activity and is still home to extensive commercial fishing activities. Later the region, like much of Michigan, was shaped by the logging era of the 1800s. Today, Alpena is known for its limestone quarry, one of the largest in the world, owned and operated by the Lafarge corporation and is a major cement manufacturer and exporter. Alpena is also the world headquarters of Besser Company, a manufacturer of concrete block machines. Tourism (fishing, hunting, camping and a variety of water sports) is also important to Alpena's economy. Alpena is also home to the NAHL's Alpena IceDiggers.

In February 2007 Bizjournals ranked Alpena as the hottest retirement destination in the Great Lakes area [ [ Bizjournal retirement ranking, Great Lakes] ] and #44 nationally. [ [ Bizjournal retirement ranking, national] ]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.5 km² (9.1 sq mi). 8.4 square miles (21.7 km²) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km²) of it (7.71%) is water. The city is on the shore of Lake Huron's Thunder Bay, with Alpena Township surrounding it on land.

Access to natural resources and water transportation has been important in development of the community. Alpena is surrounded by light stations [ [ Alpena harbor light a/k/a Sputnik] ] and lighthouses. [ [ USCG's complete list of Michigan lighthouses.] ] [cite web|url= |title=Michigan Lighthouses|format=PDF|publisher=Michigan Department of State|author=National Park Service] Several islands off the coast in Thunder Bay are part of the Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and Scarecrow Island is part of the Michigan Islands Wilderness Area. Charity, Little Charity, Scarecrow, and Thunder Bay Islands form the Lake Huron division of the Michigan Islands NWR. There are lighthouses on Charity (abandoned) and Thunder Bay Islands.



Alpena County Regional Airport (IATA: APN, ICAO: KAPN, FAA LID: APN) is the northeast lower peninsula of Michigan's main commercial airport and handles daily Northwest Airlink flights to Detroit and Sault Ste. Marie operated by Mesaba Airlines. It is a public-use airport located in Wilson Township, Michigan six miles (10 km) west of the central business district of Alpena. The airfield is co-utilized by the Michigan Air National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center.


Alpena is situated along the Lake State Railway, formerly the Detroit and Mackinac Railway (D&M). [ [ Detroit and Mackinac Railway pictures and history] ] Earlier railroads that served Alpena were built and owned by the Alger Smith and Co. logging company: (1) the Detroit, Bay City and Alpena Railroad which entered Alpena from the south around 1886; and (2) the Alpena and Northern Railroad. [ [ Michigan Railroad history for Alpena.] ]

Major highways


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 11,304 people, 4,874 households, and 2,865 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,348.9 per square mile (520.8/km²). There were 5,200 housing units at an average density of 620.5/sq mi (239.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.66% White, 0.42% African American, 0.43% Native American, 0.48% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.09% from other races, and 0.91% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.59% of the population.

There were 4,874 households out of which 26.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.1% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.2% were non-families. 35.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 19.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 88.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,353, and the median income for a family was $40,056. Males had a median income of $34,534 versus $21,951 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,476. About 10.4% of families and 13.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.5% of those under age 18 and 6.6% of those age 65 or over.


Alpena, along with the rest of Alpena County and portions of Presque Isle County, is served by Alpena Public Schools. Alpena Public Schools was established as the first county-wide school district in the state of Michigan. The district has one high school, a junior high, an alternative/adult high school, and eight elementary schools.

Alpena is also home to Alpena Community College. ACC is a two-year associates program that has partnerships with Spring Arbor University (MI) and several other Michigan institutions. Within Alpena Community College is the World Center for Concrete Technology (WCCT). The WCCT draws a worldwide enrollment of students for classes in Concrete Technology that is unparalleled anywhere else, even including a Master Blockmakers Degree for 5-class-accomplished students.


While tourism is an important component of the area's economy, both Alpena and Rogers City have an industrial base. In particular, Alpena is home to the LaFarge Company's cement plant and to Besser Block Co. (maker of a concrete block making machinery), as well as a drywall board manufacturing facility owned by Decorative Panels International. Rogers City is the location of the world's largest limestone quarry, which is used in steel making in the Great Lakes and Rust Belt regions.

Alpena's primary shopping center is the Alpena Mall, a small enclosed shopping mall featuring approximately 20 stores, with JCPenney as the anchor store.

Historical markers

There are seven recognized historical markers in the city: [ [ Michigan Historic Markers] ]

* Alpena City Hall
* Alpena County Courthouse
* The Daniel Carter Family, Alpena'a first settlers.
* First Congregational Church [Alpena]
* Monarch Mill
* St. Bernard Catholic Church
* World's Largest Cement Plant



*"The Alpena News" [ [ "The Alpena News"] ] is the daily newspaper of record for much of northeastern lower peninsula of Michigan.
*Daily editions of the "Detroit Free Press" and "The Detroit News" are also available throughout the area.


Alpena is home to several radio stations.


* WHAK (960 AM) (Rogers City) - simulcast of WWTH 100.7 FM
* WATZ (1450 AM) - news, talk and sports


* WKKM (88.5 FM) (Alpena) contemporary Christian, "Smile-FM" (from WLGH Lansing)
* WPHN (90.5 FM) (Gaylord) contemporary Christian - "Northern Christian Radio"
* WCML (91.7 FM) (Alpena) "CMU Public Radio" (from WCMU-FM Mt. Pleasant) also airs on WCMB (95.7 FM) from Oscoda
* WFDX (92.5 FM) (Atlanta) classic hits, "The Fox" (from WFCX Leland-Traverse City)
* WKJZ (94.9 FM) (Alpena) classic hits, "Hits Fm" also airs on 98.1 FM translator in Alpena (from WQLB 103.3 Tawas City)
* WATZ (99.3 FM) (Alpena) country music, also airs on WRGZ (96.7 FM) Rogers City
* WHAK (99.9 FM) (Rogers City) oldies, "99-9 The Wave"
* WWTH (100.7 FM) (Oscoda) country music, "Thunder Country 94.1 & 100.7" also airs on 94.1 FM translator in Alpena
* WKJC (104.7 FM) (Tawas City) country music
* WSRT (106.7 FM) (Gaylord) adult contemporary, also airs on 102.3 FM translator in Alpena
* WHSB (107.7 FM) (Alpena) hot adult contemporary, "107-7 The Bay"


Alpena is the third smallest (208) Nielsen Designated Market Area (DMA) in the United States.

There is only one VHF Television station located within the :
*Channel 11: WBKB-TV - (CBS).

Rebroadcasts of other television stations include:
*Channel 6: WCML-TV - (PBS) - feed of WCMU-TV
*Channel 18: W18BT - (TBN) - national feed

Cable only television:
*Channel 3: Alpena Community College educational television
*Channel 21: "WBAE-TV" - (The CW)

Canadian television available on cable only:
*Channel 2: CBMT - (CBC)

Northeast Michigan is also served by major network affiliates in the and DMAs. Cable television service is provided within Alpena and many outlying communities by Charter Communications.

Alpena in popular culture

The 1991 feature film "Not Without My Daughter" starring Sally Field and Alfred Molina was based upon the true story of Betty Mahmoody who was living in Alpena in 1984 during the events surrounding the film and novel of the same name. Bruce Willis and the film crew of "Die Hard 2" used Alpena's airport to shoot several scenes of the film. The location was ideal due to the unusually high amount of snowfall received in that area compared to the rest of the country that year.

The nearby novelty attraction in Ossineke features "Dinosaur Gardens" a handmade collection of prehistoric animals and dinosaurs was featured in the book "Roadside America" [ [ Dinosaur Gardens Prehistoric Zoo] ,]

Notable residents

There are a great many citizens, too numerous to list here, who were important in founding Alpena, and making Alpena grow and proper over the years. [cite web|url= |title=The Town That Wouldn't Die: Alpena, Michigan| author=Robert E. Haltiner|publisher=MIGenWeb]

Several notable people were born in, or have lived in, Alpena:
* Jesse M. Besser invented concrete block in 1904 and founded the Besser Block Co. He was a local philanthropist, who funded the Besser Museum, among other conributions. [cite web|url= |title=100 years of blocks: Besser Co. started as a portland cement manufacturer| publisher=BNET Business Network| author=The Concrete Producer|date=March, 2004]
* William Comstock, 33rd governor of Michigan, also buried there.
* Leon Czolgosz, Presidential assassin
* Bob Devaney former football coach for several college and highschool football teams
* News reporters Andy Dominianni and Paola Giangiacomo, both former WBKB anchors
* Robert L. Emerson, politician
* Stanley Grenz, Christian theologian
* Betty Mahmoody, author of "Not Without My Daughter"
* Harvey Marlatt, former Detroit Pistons player
* MLB players Dan Rohn and Kevin Young
* Michael Bailey Smith, actor
* The indie band, Mason Proper hails from this town
* Michael Edwards and Christopher Bronson,percussionists, of the George Michael cover band, "Wham! Today".
* K.J. Stevens, novelist and short story writer

Annual cultural events

There are many recurring local activities. A calendar is available. [ [ Alpena Chamber of Commerce calendar of events.] ]
* Alpena Blues Festival, late June at The Alpena Fair Grounds and Merchant Building. [ [ Alpena Blues Festival.] ]
* Alpena County Fair, Alpena County Fairgrounds.
* Besser Museum Log Cabin Day, last Sunday in June. Approved by the Michigan legislature passed a bill to make Log Cabin Day an annual event to be held on the last Sunday in June. The Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan spotlights their own two log cabins on this day and celebrates by offering old fashioned, family-pleasing activities.
* Garden Walk fundraiser for Shelter, Inc, nine gardens in July.
* Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival, second weekend in October. [ [ Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival] ]
* Habitat for Humanity-Alpena Area "Drive to Build" Charity Golf Outing
* Hillman Street Drags, first weekend in July, downtown, Hillman, Michigan.
* Lafarge Downtown Alpena Riverfest, in mid-June. Family event centered on the Thundre Bay River, celebrating Alpena's lumbering history. Professional lumberjack shows, entertainment, music, storytelling, chainsaw carving, food, fun and games.
* Michigan Brown Trout Festival, a week in mid-July.
* Presque Isle Harbor Wooden Boat Show, mid-June.
* Ramblin' Rods Car Show, second weekend in August at Mich-E-Kewis Park, Alpena. [ [ Reblin'Rods Car Show] ]
* Sunrise Side Heritage Bike Ride, first weekend in September. Ride Along Lake Huron Shoreline (US 23) from the Arenac County fairgrounds to Mackinac Bridge then South to West Branch on M-33 and M-55 . This is a 400 mile long organized ride. [ [ Sunrise side bike ride.] ]
* Thunder Bay Arts Council's "Art on the Bay" at beautiful Bay View Park in Alpena. A Juried Fine Arts and Fine Crafts Fair which coincides with The Michigan Brown Trout Festival.
* Thunder Bay Maritime Festival is presented by the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve in Alpena, MI.

Local cultural and eleeomosynary institutions

*Thunder Bay Theatre is northeast Michigan's only professional theatrical group, and regularly presents productions. [ [ Thunder Bay Theatre.] ]
* Youth Sailing Instruction and Training is offered by the Alpena Yacht Club. [ [ Alpena Yacht Club training] ]

Local museums and landmarks

*The Jesse M. Besser Museum for Northeastern Michigan and Planetarium. [ [ Besser Museum home page] ]
*Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, [ [ Great Lakes Maritime Heritage CenterOfficial website] ] also known as Thunder Bay National Marine Museum [ [ Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center] ] and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

ee also

*Alpena IceDiggers
*Alpena Light
*Alpena Power Company
*Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord


External links

* [ City of Alpena's official website]
* [ Alpena Chamber of Commerce]
* [ Convention and Visitors Bureau]
* [ Harbor webcam, Alpena]
* [ Alpena surface temperature - Great Lakes Coast Watch]
* [ Alpena County Soil Survey, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Michigan State University Extension Service (soil, history, good general information)]
* [ Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Bibliography on Alpena, Michigan]
* [ The Town that Wouldn't Die, history and pictures, by Robert E. Haltiner]

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