St. Clair, Michigan

St. Clair is a city in St. Clair County in the eastern "Thumb" of the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 5,485 at the 2010 census. The city is located on the St. Clair River near the southeast corner of St. Clair Township.

St. Clair
View from across the St. Clair River
View from across the St. Clair River
Saint Clair
Location within St. Clair County
Location within St. Clair County
St. Clair is located in Michigan
St. Clair
St. Clair
Location within the state of Michigan
Coordinates: 42°49′23″N 82°29′32″W / 42.82306°N 82.49222°WCoordinates: 42°49′23″N 82°29′32″W / 42.82306°N 82.49222°W
CountryUnited States
CountySt. Clair
 • TypeCouncil–manager
 • MayorBill Cedar
 • Total3.62 sq mi (9.37 km2)
 • Land2.94 sq mi (7.61 km2)
 • Water0.68 sq mi (1.75 km2)
584 ft (178 m)
 • Total5,485
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,814.63/sq mi (700.69/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
Area code(s)810
FIPS code26-70680[4]
GNIS feature ID1624881[5]
WebsiteOfficial website


  • According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.61 square miles (9.35 km2), of which 2.93 square miles (7.59 km2) is land and 0.68 square miles (1.76 km2) is water.[6] The city is located along the St. Clair River.
  • It lies in the Thumb of Michigan.
    • Saint Clair can also be considered as in the Blue Water area, a subregion of the Thumb.
  • The City of St. Clair has much upscale housing along the St. Clair River. The Saint Clair area attracts many tourists from Metro Detroit.


Located on the western banks of the St. Clair River, the city's name is taken from the river, which in turn was named for Lake Saint Clair, named by French explorers in the 17th century. The expedition of French explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle entered the lake on August 12, 1679, the feast day of Saint Clare of Assisi, and named it Lac Sainte-Claire in her honor.[7] The lake is named on English maps as early as 1710 as Saint Clare. The spelling was anglicized as early as the 1755 Mitchell Map, when the lake's name was spelled as "St. Clair," as it is currently.[8] The name is sometimes attributed to honoring the American Revolutionary War General and Governor of the Northwest Territory Arthur St. Clair, but it was in use with the current spelling long before St. Clair was a notable figure. The earlier name of the lake may have been conflated with that of the general in naming some of the political entities near the lake and the river, such as St. Clair County, St. Clair Township, and the cities of St. Clair and St. Clair Shores.

Some have thought that the name was in honor of Patrick Sinclair, a British officer who purchased land on the St. Clair River at the outlet of the Pine River. There in 1764 he built Fort Sinclair, which was in use for nearly twenty years before being abandoned.[9]


St. Clair was first platted under the name of Palmer by Thomas Palmer in 1828.[10] The city of St. Clair’s roots go back to 1764, when a British fort was built on the south side of the Pine River near where it flows into the St. Clair River. Pontiac’s Rebellion had taken place the year before and the British wanted a military base on the St. Clair River to protect their shipping route between Detroit and Fort Michilimackinac. Col. Patrick Sinclair was given the task of building it. He also made the new Fort Sinclair a trading post and sawmill center. The fort and the trading post both operated for about twenty years.

In 1817, Robert Fulton platted a town on the north side of the Pine River. He lobbied for the creation of St. Clair County, and then convinced the state to make his settlement the new county seat. St. Clair remained the county seat until 1871, when it was moved to Port Huron.

Thomas Palmer of Detroit bought Fulton’s mostly undeveloped town in 1826, and for a time the village was called Palmer. The sawmill industry began to flourish due to the area’s large supply of pine and oak. Clay from the Pine River’s banks provided the material for several brickyards that operated into the Twentieth Century. Shipbuilding began in the 1820s and continued for a hundred years. Many of the town’s men became sailors on the Great Lakes and numerous captains built homes in the city. In 1887, the Diamond Crystal Salt Company began tapping the area’s vast underground salt deposits.

In the late 1800s, St. Clair became a well-known resort with the building of the luxurious Oakland Hotel in 1881 and the Somerville Hotel in 1888. In addition to the natural wonders of the area, both hotels offered mineral baths. Passenger steamers stopped daily at the hotel docks.

In the 1960s, the downtown area was redeveloped with the help of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The crown jewel of the project was the expansion of Palmer Park with its boardwalk along the St. Clair River. Today, this beautiful park draws visitors from all over.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20175,335[3]−2.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[11]

2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 5,485 people, 2,306 households, and 1,521 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,872.0 inhabitants per square mile (722.8/km2). There were 2,523 housing units at an average density of 861.1 per square mile (332.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.1% White, 0.3% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.6% of the population.

There were 2,306 households of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.1% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 34.0% were non-families. 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.95.

The median age in the city was 42.5 years. 23.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22.8% were from 25 to 44; 30.9% were from 45 to 64; and 15.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.

2000 census

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 5,802 people, 2,322 households, and 1,613 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,093.7 per square mile (808.7/km²). There were 2,432 housing units at an average density of 877.6 per square mile (339.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.4% White, 0.12% African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.86% Asian, 1.00% Pacific Islander, 0.14% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.2% of the population.

There were 2,322 households out of which 34.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.7% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.5% were non-families. 27.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the city, the population was spread out with 27.3% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $52,957, and the median income for a family was $61,743. Males had a median income of $50,509 versus $28,224 for females. The per capita income for the city was $25,180. About 3.3% of families and 4.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.6% of those under age 18 and 3.1% of those age 65 or over.


The St. Clair High School athletic teams are known as the Saints. The teams compete in the following MHSAA sponsored sports: cross country (men/women), wrestling, soccer (men/women), football, golf (men), volleyball, track and field (men/women), baseball, softball, tennis (men/women), competitive cheer, basketball (men/women), swimming (men/women), and marching band (co-ed). The cross country teams (men/women), hockey team, tennis teams (men/women) have all in recent years begun to perform well in the state playoff tournaments. The girls' tennis team placed 8th at the MHSAA Division 3 state finals with 8 points, led by coach Dave Clutts. The boys' tennis team recently won their 8th regional title in the last 10 years. The girls' basketball team recently had a four-year stretch where they went to the Class B state finals three times, although they have not won a state title.

The boys' cross country team has dominated its conference for a number of years. Over the past two years, the Saints cross-country team has gone undefeated in their division and won back-to-back state championships led by coach Jon Davidson.

The St. Clair Marching Saints received a division 1 at the MSBOA marching band festival in 2010 receiving straight As in all categories.

In 2011, the boys' varsity baseball team won St. Clair High School's first baseball state title. [12]

Recurring local events

  • Blue Water Ramble (St. Clair, Michigan) Annual International Bicycling Event, first weekend in October.[13]
  • Annual St. Clair Art Fair is a two-day event in the last weekend in June.[14]
  • St. Clair Boat Races and River Fest are held annually in downtown St. Clair on the last weekend of July.[15]
  • Will on the Water Shakespeare Festival, second weekend in August.[16]


  • Cargill Salt (formerly Diamond Crystal) operates a large solution salt mine and evaporation facility in St. Clair. This is the only plant in the United States that produces Alberger salt, which is especially prized in the fast food industry because of its higher volume (due to its unique shape) and lower sodium content (for a given volume, not weight). This is part of Michigan's large salt-mining industry.[17]
  • The St. Clair Power Plant and Belle River Power Plant are important industries to the area, although they are not within the city limits. Both plants are located a few miles south along the St. Clair River.


  1. ^ "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jan 3, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  7. ^ Jenks, p. 22
  8. ^ Jenks, pp. 23-24
  9. ^ Fuller, pp. 21-22
  10. ^ 1883 History of St. Clair County
  11. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  12. ^ Reporter, Jim Bloch, Voice. "Parade and storm honor St. Clair as state champions". The Voice. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  13. ^ Blue Water Ramble/Clinton River Riders
  14. ^ St. Clair Art Fair; Arts Council. Archived 2008-06-05 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ City of Saint Clair.
  16. ^ Enter Stage Right.
  17. ^ Diamond Crystal Salt

Further reading

External links

Ashtabula (ferry)

Ashtabula was a ferry that traveled between Ashtabula, Ohio, on the south shore of Lake Erie, to Port Burwell, Ontario, on the north shore.Ashtabula was built in 1906, at the Great Lakes Engineering Works in St. Clair, Michigan, to transport ore and coal cars. She sank on 18 September 1958 after colliding with the steamer Ben Moreell.

Dewayne T. Williams

Private First Class Dewayne Thomas Williams (September 18, 1949 – September 18, 1968) was a United States Marine who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for heroism in the Vietnam War in September 1968.

Eduard C. Lindeman

Eduard C. Lindeman (May 9, 1885 – April 13, 1953) was an American educator, notable for his pioneering contributions in adult education. He introduced many concepts of modern adult education in his book, The Meaning of Adult Education.

Ezra C. Carleton

Ezra Child Carleton (September 6, 1838 – July 24, 1911) was a U.S. Representative from the 7th district of Michigan.

Carleton was born in St. Clair, Michigan where he attended the common schools and graduated from the Port Huron High School in 1859. He engaged in business as a hardware merchant in Port Huron and served as mayor of Port Huron in 1881 and 1882.

Carleton was elected as a Democrat to the 48th and 49th Congresses, serving from March 4, 1883 until March 3, 1887 in the U.S. House representing Michigan's 7th congressional district. He was succeeded in office by Democrat Justin Rice Whiting.

After leaving congress in 1887, Carleton returned to his former mercantile pursuits in Port Huron. He was the Democratic candidate for the 7th District in the election of 1894, losing to Republican Horace G. Snover.

Carleton died in Port Huron and is interred there in Lakeside Cemetery.

Gail Palmer

Gail Palmer (also Gail Palmer-Slater, real name Gail Parmentier, born in 1955) is an American former writer, producer and director of pornographic movies in the U.S. during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Among her well-known movies are Hot Summer in the City (1976) starring Lisa Baker as a white girl who is abducted and abused by a group of black men, and the comedies The Erotic Adventures of Candy (1978) starring John Holmes and Carol Connors and Candy Goes to Hollywood (1979) starring Carol Connors and the late punk singer Wendy O. Williams.

After a visit to Hunter S. Thompson's home in 1990 she accused the writer of sexual assault; the charges were later dropped.She was featured in Playboy September 1977 as a Michigan State girl, mentioned in Playboy February 1979 in "The Year in Sex", and in an article in Swank in June 1980. Also in the late 70s she had a rock band called Foreplay. Her autobiography, Candy goes to Hollywood: the Gail Palmer story, appeared in 1994.

In the 2007 book The Book of Vice, author Peter Sagal states that he was hired as a ghost writer for Gail Palmer, researched and interviewed her, and found that she did not actually direct the movies attributed to her but was a front for her boyfriend. He did ghost-write her book but it was never published.

Her boyfriend at the time was porn distributor Harry Mohney. She sued him in 1984 for excluding her from the profits of their movies.In the 2006 book When Elvis Meets the Dalai Lama, author Murray Silver claims to have ghostwritten Palmer's autobiography.

Grant Achatz

Grant Achatz (born April 25, 1974) is an American chef and restaurateur often recognized for his contributions to molecular gastronomy or progressive cuisine. His Chicago restaurant Alinea has won numerous accolades and Achatz himself has won numerous awards from prominent culinary institutions and publications, including the "Rising Star Chef of the Year Award" for 2003, "Best Chef in the United States" for 2008 and a 2012 "Who's Who Inductee" from the James Beard Foundation.

Harry James (American football)

John Henry "Harry" James (June 20, 1881 - October 16, 1947) was an American football quarterback and manufacturer. He was the starting quarterback for Michigan's undefeated, national championship 1903 "Point-a-Minute" football team that outscored opponents 565 to 6. James later went into the manufacturing business. He was the founder of The Motor Foundry Co., a manufacturer of automobile parts in Detroit, and the James Motor Valve Company, which developed the innovative "James Valve" in the mid-1920s. He also served as the general manager of the Monarch Steel Castings Co., an innovator in the Solvay process.

James L. Conger

James Lockwood Conger (February 18, 1805 – April 10, 1876) was a politician from the U.S. state of Michigan.

Conger was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and moved with his parents to New York in 1809. They settled in Canandaigua, New York, where he attended the district schools and studied medicine at Canandaigua Academy.

In 1822, Conger moved to Lancaster, Ohio, where he taught school for several years and studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1825 and commenced practice in Lancaster. He soon moved to Cleveland, Ohio, and continued the practice of law from 1826 to 1837. Then he moved to Macomb County, Michigan, and laid out the town of Belvidere, where he engaged in banking and mercantile pursuits until 1850. He soon moved to Mount Clemens.

In 1850, Conger was elected as a Whig from Michigan's 3rd congressional district to the 32nd United States Congress, serving from March 4, 1851 to March 3, 1853. He declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1852 and resumed his former business pursuits.

Owing to ill health, James L. Conger retired from active business pursuits. He died in St. Clair, Michigan, and was interred in Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio.

James Woffendale Inches

Dr. James W. Inches (October 30, 1860 – March 29, 1952) was a physician, businessman, Michigan political figure, big game hunter and aviation enthusiast.

Jeremiah Jenks

Jeremiah Whipple Jenks (1856–1929) was an American economist, educator, and Professor at Cornell University, who held various posts in the US government throughout his career. He served as a member of the Dillingham Immigration Commission from 1907 - 1914, where he led research projects on the current state of immigration into the United States. He is also the author of several influential books, including The Immigration Problem: A Study of Immigration Conditions and Need and The Dictionary of Races. He was among the first social science academics within government, and one of the first to propose that the federal government has the power to restrict immigration.

Jobbie Nooner

Jobbie Nooner is the largest boat party in the Midwest and one of the largest boat parties in America.

According to co-creator Jack Campbell, "The very first Jobbie Nooner occurred Friday, June 28th, 1974."

Auto workers who called themselves "Jobbies", would take the last Friday in June off work to party at Gull Island (Lake St. Clair, Michigan). The event was originally timed to coincide with Lee Wagner's birthday, but eventually grew to become a bigger celebration.The party now occurs twice a year. Jobbie Nooner is the last Friday in June and Jobbie Nooner Two is the second Saturday in September. The event keeps growing. Annually, Jobbie Nooner attracts 10,000+ boats and over 100,000+ people.

John A. Trese

Monsignor John Arthur Trese ("Fr. Jack") (June 20, 1923 – October 20, 2004) was an American Roman Catholic priest serving the Archdiocese of Detroit from 1951 to 2000.

Justin Rice Whiting

Justin Rice Whiting (February 18, 1847 – January 31, 1903) was a politician from the U.S. state of Michigan.

Whiting was born in Bath, New York, and moved to Michigan in 1849 with his parents, who settled in St. Clair, Michigan. He attended the public schools and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor from 1863 to 1865. He worked as a merchant and manufacturer. Whiting was elected mayor of St. Clair in 1879 and represented the 17th District in the Michigan State Senate in 1882.

He was elected as a Democrat from Michigan's 7th congressional district to the 50th United States Congress and reelected to the 51st, 52nd, and 53rd Congresses, serving from March 4, 1887 until March 3, 1895. After leaving Congress, Whiting resumed his former business pursuits in St. Clair. He was an unsuccessful Fusion candidate for Governor of Michigan in 1898, losing to incumbent Republican Hazen S. Pingree. He also ran for election in 1900 to the 57th Congress, losing to incumbent Republican Edgar Weeks.

Whiting married Emily F. Owen, with whom he had 10 children. Their son, also named Justin Rice Whiting (1886–1965), was president of the Consumers Power Company from 1949 to 1959.

Whiting also served as chairman of the Democratic State central committee. He died in St. Clair and is interred there at Hillside Cemetery.

Mark Hopkins Jr.

Mark Hopkins (September 1, 1813 – March 29, 1878) was one of four principal investors who had agreed to fund Theodore D. Judah's idea of building a railway over the Sierra Nevada from Sacramento, CA to Promontory, Utah. They formed the Central Pacific Railroad along with Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and Collis Huntington in 1861.

Mike Emrick

Michael "Doc" Emrick (born August 1, 1946) is an American network television play-by-play sportscaster and commentator noted mostly for his work in ice hockey. Emrick is currently the lead announcer for NHL national telecasts on both NBC and NBCSN. Among the many awards he has received is the NHL's Lester Patrick Award in 2004, making him the first of only five to have received the award for media work, and the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008. He has also won six national Emmy Awards for excellence in sports broadcasting, the only hockey broadcaster to be honored with even one. On December 12, 2011, Emrick became the first member of the media to be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Robert Hardy Cleland

Robert Hardy Cleland (born April 26, 1947) is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Shawn Burr

Shawn Christopher Burr (July 1, 1966 – August 5, 2013) was a professional ice hockey left winger. Burr played in the NHL for parts of 16 seasons from 1985 to 2000.

Ted Goulait

Theodore Lee "Ted" Goulait (August 12, 1889 – July 15, 1936) was an American pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the New York Giants in September 1912, among other teams.

Goulait was born on August 12, 1889, in St. Clair, Michigan, and died in his hometown on July 15, 1936, aged 46.

William S. Linton

William Seelye Linton (February 4, 1856 – November 22, 1927) was a politician from the U.S. state of Michigan.

Places adjacent to St. Clair, Michigan
Municipalities and communities of St. Clair County, Michigan, United States
General law

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