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Ludington as a Historic Small Town

Pure Ludington has been nominated as one of just 20 towns across the country by the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards panel for “Best Historic Small Town,” and the only town in Michigan! Find out the history behind our small town below, and cast your vote for Ludington daily until April 1, 2024.

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1. Ludington hosted the annual conference of the Historical Society of Michigan in 2019.  More people attended this conference than any one of those held in the previous 144 years and that includes large cities like Detroit and Grand Rapids.

2. Ludington has a long continuing history of cross lake carferry service.  The first steel hulled car ferry sailed out of our port in 1897.  In the 1930s our fleet numbered nine vessels, then the largest car ferry fleet in the world.  That historic legacy sails on today with the SS Badger which sails to Wisconsin.

This historic ship has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

3. Father Marquette died here in 1675 and a marker approved by the State History Center has been erected.  Detroit was founded in 1701 which gives the death of this famed priest and explorer an early history perspective.


4. The city has a Federal Historic Home District on East Ludington Avenue; three historic homes have been designated Michigan Heritage Homes; the Cartier Mansion in on the National Register of Historic Places; the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum is located in a former Coast Guard Station which is also on the National Register.

5. Three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryon twice spoke in Ludington and stayed overnight with the Daniel Goodenough family in their still extant home now on the State Register of Historic Homes.

6. In the last five or six years, Ludington has hosted several regional conferences: Railroad History Association, Great Lakes Historical Association and Circle Michigan’s conference.


7. Michigan has the largest number of extant light houses (150) in the United States.  The Big Sable Lighthouse Keepers Association is headquartered in Ludington and its associates are in Manistee, Oceana and Muskegon counties.

8. The city has six cultural history trails which provide an interactive visitor experience through OnCell technology where visitors can use their mobile devices as the listen to the stories along 100 stops.  Our technology is shared free to our partners in Lake and Oceana Counties.  Our trails are promoted on Travel Michigan’s website – Pure Michigan.

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      9.The city has a Maritime Heritage Park which is located on the shore of Lake Michigan.  Although in its early stage of development, there are three installed sculptures commemorating our rich maritime history.

   10. The Mason County Historical Society has a new historic research center in downtown Ludington having climate control equivalent to Smithsonian standards to preserve all photographs, manuscripts, documents, maps andnewspapers.


   11. The city has 17 bronze sculptures commemorating its history and environment.

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*Historical facts compiled by local historian and author, William Anderson.

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