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Michigan Counties

The boundaries of the eighty-three counties in Michigan have not changed substantially since 1897. Wayne County was the sixth county in the Northwest Territory, formed 15 August 1796 and organized in 1815. Wayne County was created 21 November 1815 as an original county of Michigan.

Benzie County, Michigan

Benzie County Education, Geography, and HistoryBenzie County, Michigan Courthouse

Benzie County is a county in the state of Michigan. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 17,525. The county seat is Beulah. The county was initially set off in 1863 and organized in 1869.

The name Benzie is derived from the French la riviere aux Bec-scies, "the river of sawbills", bec-scie ("bill-saw") being a type of ducks. Americans altered the pronunciation of the river's name, which became known as the "Betsie River". A similar alteration in pronunciation produced "Benzie". At 321 square miles (831 km2), Benzie County is the smallest of the 83 counties in Michigan.

Benzie County is part of the Traverse City, MI Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Benzie County Name

Benzie County is an Americanization of the French name, "aux-Bec Scies," which was applied to a river, later changed to Betsey and finally Benzie.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Benzie County History

Benzie County is an Americanization of the French name, "aux-Bec Scies," which was applied to a river, later changed to Betsey and finally Benzie.

Set Off: 1863

Organized: 1869

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 860 square miles (2,200 km2), of which 320 square miles (830 km2) is land and 540 square miles (1,400 km2) (63%) is water. It is the smallest county in Michigan by land area.

Benzie County is located in the northwest of the Lower Peninsula, in the "little finger" position of the mitten-shaped peninsula and is considered to be part of the Northern Michigan region. Lake Michigan is to the west, Leelanau County and the Leelanau Peninsula are to the north. Grand Traverse County and Traverse City are to the east. Wexford County is to the southeast and Manistee County to the south. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore extends into the northwest portion of the county. Crystal Lake is a prominent physical feature of the area. The Platte River rises out of a lake district around Lake Ann in the northeast of the county and flows southwest and the northwest into Big Platte Lake before emptying into Lake Michigan at Platte River Point. The Betsie River rises in neighboring Grand Traverse County, flowing southwest across the southeast corner of the county into Manistee County, where it bends northwest until just south of Benzonia where it receives the outflow of Crystal Lake and then flows mostly west through Elberta and Frankfort and into Lake Michigan.

Portions of the Pere Marquette State Forest lie within the county and offers several trails including a 10-mile (16 km) route along the Betsie River and a 5.8-mile (9.3 km) trail near Lake Ann. There are state forest campgrounds at Platte River and Lake Ann. The Betsie River State Game Area is located just east of Elberta. 50 miles (80 km) of the Betsie River is a state-designated Natural River from Grass Lake, just west of the Grand Traverse County line, to its inlet into Lake Betsie just east of Elberta. The natural and scenic richness of the area has made it a host to a variety of conservation, education, and recreation programs, including Crystalaire, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, and others.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Leelanau County (north)
  • Grand Traverse County (east)
  • Manistee County (south)


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