County Seat: Standish.
Origin of Name: A derivation of the Latin "arena" and the Native American "ac." The combined word means "sandy place."
Set Off: 1831 but incorporated into Bay County in 1858. Separated from Bay County in 1883.
Population in 1990: 14,931
Arenac: "A sandy place for a good footing" - that's what Henry Schoolcraft observed of the area when he named it after the combination of : "arena," referring to the sand in the Coliseum to provide a better footing for gladiators, and "ac," Indian for: "place of." Located at the bottom of Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron , this area has long been inhabited, with 5000 year old Indian artifacts being found there. The Rifle, Au Gres and Pine Rivers made excellent fishing and canoeing routes for both Ottawa Indians and early settlers to the area - including Captain J. P. Phillips and John Lentz, who started a sawmill in 1856. Once part of Bay and Saginaw Counties , it organized as Arenac County in 1883, during the lumber boom, keeping to its name in providing settlers a "good footing" for starting out.
Arenac County today remains a popular resort area, with plenty of canoeing, hunting and fishing. Standish, the county seat, is considered a sportsman's supply headquarters for those travelling up north. The Rifle and Au Gres Rivers continue to be favorite canoeing spots, and provide ample opportunity for trout, chinook, coho, and smelt. The Au Gres area includes a marina on the big lake with an inland channel to the city. The Tittabawassee River State Forest to the west also provides opportunity for hunting small game.
Au Gres is located in eastern Arenac County on US-23, just a few miles inland from the shores of Lake Huron . French explorers referred to the area as having "gritty stone," hence the name, Au Gres. John Edward Bradley is considered to be the father of the town, building the Bradley House in 1866 and becoming the first postmaster there in 1867. It eventually incorporated as a village in 1905.
Tourism and the Au Gres River are the main points of interest, including a marina situated at the river's mouth at Lake Huron, with the channel running a couple of miles to town. The river flows by a picturesque city park, complete with a stately looking arched walking bridge. There are also several unique shops and restaurants in the area, as well as some small businesses and manufacturing facilities, including machinery and metal stamping.
Arenac . 1883 . A name made up by Henry Schoolcraft, it is a combination of the Latin "arena" (sandy) and the Native American "ac" (earth). The combined words mean "sandy place."
Arenac County Websites and Locations of Interest