Grayling, Michigan

Grayling is the only city and county seat of Crawford County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 1,884 at the 2010 census. The city is surrounded by Grayling Charter Township, but the two are administered autonomously.
The city is located in the middle of the Northern Michigan region at the junctions of Interstate 75, U.S. Route 127, M-72, and M-93. Grayling is well known for hosting the Au Sable River Canoe Marathon in July of every year since 1947. The city is named after the Grayling species of fish once abundant in the Au Sable River, although the species has long since been extinct in the area. There have been many attempts to bring Grayling back to the area but none have been successful.


Michael Shoat Hartwick was Grayling's first settler. On the west side of the railroad tracks, he built a log hotel. The railroad platted out 40 acres, naming it "Crawford". Fish swimming in the river were identified as grayling, and it is said that the residents preferred the name "Grayling" to the name "Crawford," and renamed the area after the fish.
Grayling's access to two major rivers, and the presence of the vast forest around it, made it important in the lumber era. Logs were floated down the rivers to the lakes.
Grayling had other names through the years. It was called "AuSable", "Forest", "Crawford Station", and during the lumbering era "Milltown".
breeding grounds in rivers and contributed to their slow decline and eventual disappearance from Northern Michigan.
The Arctic grayling that had inhabited much of Northern Michigan was eventually wiped out. The logging practice of using river beds to move logs in the springtime destroyed the breeding grounds for these fish. Before they could recover, non-native sport fish such as brook trout were introduced in the 1890s and competed with the grayling for food.
The Grayling Fish Hatchery was founded in 1914 by timber baron Rasmus Hanson. He hoped to restore the grayling to the Au Sable River system; ironically, its disappearance was caused, at least in part, by the massive habitat destruction caused by logging, which was the source of Mr. Hanson's and other lumber barons' immense wealth. Other famous contributors to the initial costs of the hatchery included Henry Ford, Edsel Ford, and Thomas Edison. The grayling became extinct in Michigan. Nevertheless, the hatchery continued to play an important role in natural resource conservation. In 1926, it was sold to the state of Michigan. It continued to be operated as a fish hatchery and tourist attraction until the mid-1960s. In 1995, Michigan sold the property to Crawford County. It is being operated by a privately owned fish farm, although continues to be open to the public during the summer.
An important person in the history of Grayling is Rasmus Hanson. Hanson was born in 1846 in Denmark and immigrated to the United States in 1867 at age 16, when he began work in the lumber field. Two years later, E. N. Salling, Nelson Michelson, and he organized the first Salling-Hanson Company. After nearly 50 years of service, the Salling Hanson Company had shut down its operation in January 1927. He was a successful entrepreneur and created many businesses in Northern Michigan. Along with being one of three lumber barons of Northern Michigan, Hanson owned the Michigan Sugar Company and the Bay City Sugar Company. In 1916, he donated 13,826 acres of cut-over land in Crawford County to the state of Michigan for use as a forest game preserve and military reservation. This land became the first state-owned game preserve. The area south of Lake Margrethe continues to be used as a National Guard base that serves Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana guards. Since 1947, Grayling has been the starting point of the Au Sable River Canoe Marathon, which is held every year on the last weekend of July. This is the longest nonstop canoe race in North America.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of, of which is land and is water.
This climatic region has large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot summers and cold winters. According to the Köppen climate classification system, Grayling has a humid continental climate, Dfb on climate maps.


2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 1,884 people, 764 households, and 419 families residing in the city. The population density was. There were 890 housing units at an average density of. The racial makeup of the city was 97.2% White, 0.7% African American, 0.5% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.1% from other races, and 0.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.7% of the population.
There were 764 households, of which 29.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.9% were married couples living together, 16.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 45.2% were non-families. 37.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 3.00.
The median age in the city was 38.6 years. 23.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.9% were from 25 to 44; 22.1% were from 45 to 64; and 20.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.7% male and 53.3% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,952 people, 828 households, and 481 families residing in the city. The population density was 972.1 per square mile. There were 895 housing units at an average density of 445.7 per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 96.88% White, 0.51% African American, 0.87% Native American, 0.77% Asian, 0.15% from other races, and 0.82% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.54% of the population.
There were 828 households, out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.4% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.8% were non-families. 38.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 20.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 26.1% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 24.5% from 25 to 44, 19.1% from 45 to 64, and 22.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 78.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 70.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $24,250, and the median income for a family was $29,850. Males had a median income of $29,167 versus $20,060 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,089. About 21.6% of families and 21.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.5% of those under age 18 and 17.5% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Historical sites and local events

The area is proud of its history, and has preserved landmarks, which it uses for historical events, including reenactments.
Camp Grayling is a Michigan National Guard training facility located near the city. It is the largest National Guard training base in the United States. Through the year, around 10,000 troops train at the base, and it generates an estimated $20 million in local economic activity.


The city levies an income tax of 1% on residents and 0.5% on nonresidents.


The Crawford AuSable School District is the primary school district for the county, serving the city of Grayling and the nearby community. The district consists of one high school, one middle school, and one elementary school, which serve about 1600 students. In 2013, Grayling High School was ranked at 1503 on Newsweek's America's best high school rating, which rated the top 2000 public high schools in the US based on graduation rate, college acceptance rate, AP tests taken per student, average AP scores, number of students enrolled in AP courses, and average SAT/ACT scores. In 2014, the National Association of State Boards of Education named the district as the top performing rural school district in Michigan.


Major highways

Grayling is north of the confluence of two major north–south freeways: I-75 and US 127, and the junction with M-72, an east–west cross-peninsular state highway route.