Frankfort is a city located in Benzie County, Michigan. The area was first inhabited by the Odawa people, a Native American tribe, and was later settled by European Americans in the mid-19th century.
In 1855, Captain John C. Crist and his family were the first European Americans to settle in the area. They established a farm and named their settlement "Crist's Landing." The settlement grew quickly, and in 1867, it was renamed "Frankfort" after Frankfort, Germany.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Frankfort became a popular vacation destination for wealthy families from Chicago and Detroit. They came to enjoy the city's beautiful beaches, clear water, and fresh air.
In the early 1900s, the city became a hub for shipping and industry, with lumber mills and shipping docks driving the local economy. The city's proximity to Lake Michigan made it an ideal location for shipping lumber and other goods to markets in other parts of the country.
In the mid-20th century, Frankfort's economy shifted away from shipping and industry and towards tourism. Today, the city is known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear water, and charming downtown area. It's a popular vacation destination for families, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Top Tourist Attractions
Frankfort, Michigan is a charming city that offers a variety of tourist attractions. Here are some of the top attractions that you might want to visit:
- Point Betsie Lighthouse: This iconic lighthouse was built in 1858 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's a popular spot for photos and is open for tours during the summer months.
- Frankfort Beach: This beach is one of the most popular attractions in Frankfort. It's a beautiful sandy beach with crystal-clear water and a pier that's perfect for fishing or taking a leisurely stroll.
- Betsie Valley Trail: This scenic trail runs for 22 miles through the beautiful countryside of Benzie County. It's open to walkers, bikers, and horseback riders.
- Mineral Springs Park: This park is located in the heart of downtown Frankfort and features a mineral spring that was believed to have healing properties. The park also has a playground, picnic area, and a walking trail.
- Frankfort Light & Sound Show: This nighttime light show is a popular attraction during the summer months. It features colorful lights and music that are synchronized to create a dazzling display.
- Elberta Beach: This beach is located just south of Frankfort and is a quieter alternative to Frankfort Beach. It's a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and watching the sunset.
- Frankfort Farmers Market: This market is held every Saturday during the summer months and features a variety of local vendors selling fresh produce, handmade crafts, and other goods.
- Michigan Legacy Art Park: This outdoor art museum is located in nearby Thompsonville and features over 50 sculptures and installations that celebrate Michigan's history and natural beauty.
Frankfort, Michigan has a humid continental climate, which means it experiences warm summers and cold winters. Here's a breakdown of the climate in Frankfort:Summer (June - August):
- Average high temperatures range from the mid-70s°F to low 80s°F (23-28°C)
- Average low temperatures range from the mid-50s°F to low 60s°F (13-16°C)
- Humidity levels are moderate, and there's a chance of thunderstorms
- Average high temperatures range from the mid-60s°F to low 70s°F (16-22°C)
- Average low temperatures range from the mid-40s°F to low 50s°F (7-13°C)
- The fall foliage is beautiful in this region
- Average high temperatures range from the mid-20s°F to low 30s°F (-4 to -1°C)
- Average low temperatures range from the mid-teens°F to low 20s°F (-9 to -6°C)
- Snow is common, and the area receives an average of 80 inches (203 cm) of snow per year
- Average high temperatures range from the mid-40s°F to low 60s°F (7-16°C)
- Average low temperatures range from the mid-20s°F to mid-40s°F (-4 to 7°C)
- There's a chance of rain, and the area experiences some thunderstorms
Frankfort, Michigan is located in Benzie County on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Here's a breakdown of the geography of the area:
- Frankfort covers a total area of 1.78 square miles (4.61 km²), with 1.56 square miles (4.03 km²) of land and 0.22 square miles (0.58 km²) of water.
- The city is situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, which is the second-largest of the Great Lakes and the fifth-largest lake in the world. The lake has a surface area of 22,400 square miles (58,000 km²).
- Betsie Bay is located just north of Frankfort and is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and kayaking.
- The city is surrounded by forests, parks, and natural areas, including the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Huron-Manistee National Forest, and the Betsie River State Game Area.
- Frankfort is located about 30 miles (48 km) west of Traverse City, a popular tourist destination known for its wineries, breweries, and cherry orchards.
A city in Benzie County
Benzie County is located near the Northwest tip of lower Michigan along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Benzie County has an area of 316 square miles making it the smallest county in the state in land area.
There are nineteen governmental units within Benzie County. These include the communities of the City of Frankfort, and the Villages of Elberta, Beulah, Benzonia, Honor, Lake Ann and Thompsonville. There are also the Townships of Almira, Benzonia, Blaine, Colfax, Crystal Lake, Gilmore, Homestead, Inland, Joyfield, Lake, Platte and Weldon.
Benzie County is abundantly rich in natural resources with many lakes and rivers containing over 546 square miles of water, and over 136,000 acres of forest land. These resources provide the base for Benzies economy with tourism/recreation and agriculture being the two major economic sectors of the County.
Benzie County residents value these natural resources and the undeveloped "Up North" feel, and we work hard to preserve these resources while striving to provide a stable economy and maintain high quality of life for all citizens.
The Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse
The US Coast Guard is in the process of relinquishing to the Bureau of Land Management a great majority of its holdings at the site. The Coast Guard will retain rights to operate the light, as well as ownership of the modern box house behind the lighthouse and the lot on which that “guest” house sits. However, it is the fate of the main building consisting of the turret and the keeper's quarters, the 3+ outbuildings and the undeveloped lot across the road that is of concern.
The process of how the BLM distributes government property is a lengthy and complicated one, with an up to five-year timeline and lots of paper work. After two years, this federal agency has just now reached the point where it will take applications, and Benzie County's plans for submitting application are underway. In turn, the county is going to be supported in its application by us, the Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse.
We will play a vital role in first procuring the site for the county and then maintaining it, with a strong bent towards preserving and promoting its historical aspects. A substantial Friends group that demonstrates broad public support in the community will greatly enhance the county's chances for acquisition; in fact, without such support the County's application doesn't stand a chance.
Other interested parties may seek to acquire the light- house site for their own purposes including private applicants and non-profit groups. We know that definite interest has been expressed by others but at this time we do not know who else will officially apply nor who will ultimately own the properties. Answering the chorus of common concerns that we heard when surveying the community, the Friends group seeks to ensure this landmark will continue to serve and be accessible to the public. Benzie County, in full partnership with the Friends, is currently operating as official caretakers via a historical lease granted by the Coast Guard until subsequent ownership is decided.
The noteworthy Ann Arbor/Washington DC firm of Quinn Evans was recently retained for a feasibility study, such a study being a requirement of our application. There is also a separate engineering study to be done on the concrete apron. This is so everyone involved knows the condition of the site, and both the BLM and our county commissioners are assured we all know what we're getting into. All aspects of the present site, as well as possible future plans for it, will be studied. For example, how structurally sound are the buildings? Is there a possibility of toxic substances stored/spilled/dumped at the site?
How does any future plan for the site fit into the need to maintain ecological and historical integrity? What steps must be taken to assure keeping the site as low-key and non-commercial as possible, but still self-supporting? How significant a worry is beach erosion or the naturally occurring drift of the dunes? As you can imagine, taking on a lighthouse is no small or simple undertaking! The present Friends board members are excited at the opportunity to work with Mike Quinn, who not only is a leading authority on this sort of project but has close personal ties to the area, as well. His company's full report is expected by the end of June and will be highlighted on our Web site. Upon representative approval the results of this study will, in essence, spell out our plan of attack. In the meanwhile, we are very impressed with the team members’ expertise, as well as their passionate commitment to the entire project that is rivaled only by our own.
The Friends believe that the County is best suited to receive the lighthouse properties so that through representational government, both the voting citizens and seasonal residents of Benzie County have the final say in what becomes of Pt. Betsie. It is conceivable that, should we gain ownership, the County would turn around and lease the properties to someone else. Or, it is more likely that the site would be turned into a county park, with a possible art gallery, or a gift shop, or meeting/special event facility, and/or a museum. As you can see, the possibilities are many, and details yet to be determined. But we need your input! Now is the time to join us because now is when these initial critical decisions are being made for Point Betsie's future.