Empire, Michigan

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Empire is a village in Leelanau County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 378 at the 2000 census. The village is located within Empire Township.



Situated approximately 25 miles (40 km) due west of Traverse City, Empire is nestled in the center of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. With the Empire Bluffs to the south and the widely recognizable sand dunes of the National Lakeshore to the north, the area possesses breathtaking vistas of the dunes, North Manitou and South Manitou islands, and Lake Michigan. Most Sleeping Bear Dunes panoramas portrayed on postcards are taken from a walking trail which runs to the top of the Empire Bluffs. A wide beach separates Lake Michigan from its close neighbor, South Bar Lake. The much smaller South Bar Lake stays considerably warmer than the big lake during the summer months, and is good for young children.

The Empire beach boasts the Robert H. Manning Memorial Light, which was built in 1991 by O'Brien Brothers Construction as a memorial to Robert H. Manning, a life-long resident of Empire and avid fisherman. Additionally, the beach offers a famous antique anchor which was discovered by Douglas Manning, son of Robert H. Manning, and Michelle Stryker in 1977. Every year, the village of Empire celebrates the raising of the anchor on the third Saturday in July.

The small village of Empire is located up a short hill, just a few minutes walk from the beach.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.2 square miles (3.2 km²), of which, 1.1 square miles (3.0 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (7.26%) is water. Empire is considered to be part of Northern Michigan.

Geographic features

Major highways

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