Onekama, Michigan

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Onekama (pronounced /oʊˈnɛkəmə/ oh-NEK-ə-mə) is a village in Manistee County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 647 at the 2000 census. The village is located on the shores of Portage Lake and is surrounded by Onekama Township. The town's name is derived from "oneka-ma-engh", a native[clarification needed] phrase for "portage". Some local business people have produced sweatshirts, t-shirts, and bumper stickers with the symbols "1," (pronounced 'ONE comma'), a common mispronunciation.[citation needed]



According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 0.6 square miles (1.6 km²), all land.


The predecessor of the village of Onekama was the settlement of Portage at Portage Point, first established in 1845, at the western end of Portage, at the outlet of Portage Creek. In 1871, when landowners around the land-locked lake became exasperated with the practices of the Portage Sawmill, they took the solution into their own hands and dug a channel through the narrow isthmus, opening a waterway that lowered the lake by 12 to 14 feet and brought it to the same lavel as Lake Michigan. When this action dried out Portage Creek on 14 May 1871, the settlement, which had only the week before been designated as Onekama with a Post Office under that name, moved to the previously submerged land at the northwestern shore of the lake near an earlier settlement called "Brookfield".

In 1880, the first public buildings were built in the new village. These included the Pierce Grist Mill and The Gibert Brothers' Saw Mill. In 1882, the first school was built next to the present-day Congregational Church. In 1883, a large summer hotel, The Glen House, was built near the Glen, with its three mineral springs that were believed to have medicinal value.

The village was incorporated in 1891 and included the earlier settlement known as Brookfield, creating a long narrow village about 1.5 miles long with the business section on the flat, former lake bottom and residences on the higher land.

In 1889, a branch of the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad was extended to the village.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 647 people, 239 households, and 152 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,083.9 per square mile (416.3/km²). There were 315 housing units at an average density of 527.7/sq mi (202.7/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 85.16% White, 0.15% African American, 0.46% Native American, 13.14% from other races, and 1.08% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 21.79% of the population.

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