Muskegon, Michigan
City of Muskegon
Port City, Lumber Queen of the World, Skeetown, Midwest Riviera,Lumbertown
Location of Muskegon within Muskegon County, Michigan
Coordinates: 43°14′03″N 86°14′54″W / 43.23417°N 86.24833°W / 43.23417; -86.24833
CountryUnited States
 • TypeCommission-Manager
 • MayorStephen J. Gawron[1]
 • City ManagerFrank Peterson
 • City18.20 sq mi (47.13 km2)
 • Land14.14 sq mi (36.63 km2)
 • Water4.05 sq mi (10.50 km2)
617 ft (191.4 m)
 • City38,401
 • Estimate 
 • Density2,585.38/sq mi (998.19/km2)
 • Urban
 • Metro
1,433,288 (Grand Rapids-Holland-Muskegon metropolitan area)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)231
FIPS code26-56320[5]
GNIS feature ID1620963[6]

Muskegon (/mʌˈskɡən/) is a city in the U. S. state of Michigan. It is called the "port city" because it is known for fishing, sailing regattas, pleasure boating and as a commercial and cruise ship port. It is a popular vacation destination because of the expansive freshwater beaches, historic architecture and public art collection. It is the most populous city along the western shore of Michigan. At the 2010 census the city population was 38,401. The city is the county seat of Muskegon County.[7] It is at the southwest corner of Muskegon Township, but is administratively autonomous.

The Muskegon Metro area had a population of 173,566 in 2019. It is also part of the larger Grand Rapids-Kentwood-Muskegon-Combined Statistical Area with a population of 1,433,288.[8]


Early inhabitants

The entrance to Muskegon Lake from Lake Michigan at Muskegon, Michigan
The entrance to Muskegon Lake from Lake Michigan at Muskegon, Michigan

Human occupation of the Muskegon area goes back seven or eight thousand years to the nomadic Paleo-Indian hunters who occupied the area following the retreat of the Wisconsonian glaciations. The Paleo-Indians were superseded by several stages of Woodland Indian developments, the most notable of whom were the Hopewellian type-tradition, which occupied this area, perhaps two thousand years ago,.[9]

During historic times, the Muskegon area was inhabited by various bands of the Odawa (Ottawa) and Pottawatomi Indian tribes, but by 1830 Muskegon was solely an Ottawa village.[10] Perhaps the best remembered of the area's Indian inhabitants was the Ottawa Indian Chief, Pendalouan. A leading participant in the French-inspired annihilation of the Fox Indians of Illinois in the 1730s, Pendalouan and his people lived in the Muskegon vicinity during the 1730s and 1740s until the French induced them to move their settlement to the Traverse Bay area in 1742.[9]

The name "Muskegon" is derived from the Ottawa tribe term "Masquigon," meaning "marshy river or swamp".[11]

European arrival

The "Masquigon" River (Muskegon River) was identified on French maps dating from the late seventeenth century, suggesting French explorers had reached Michigan's western coast by that time. Father Jacques Marquette traveled northward through the area on his fateful trip to St. Ignace in 1675 and a party of French soldiers under La Salle's lieutenant, Henry de Tonty, passed through the area in 1679.[9]

The county's earliest known Euro-American resident was Edward Fitzgerald, a fur trader and trapper who came to the Muskegon area in 1748 and who died there, reportedly being buried in the vicinity of White Lake. Sometime between 1790 and 1800, a French-Canadian trader named Joseph La Framboise established a fur trading post at the mouth of Duck Lake. Between 1810 and 1820, several French Canadian fur traders, including Lamar Andie, Jean Baptiste Recollect and Pierre Constant had established fur trading posts around Muskegon Lake.[9]

Euro-American settlement of Muskegon began in earnest in 1837, which coincided with the beginning of the exploitation of the area's extensive timber resources. The commencement of the lumber industry in 1837 inaugurated what some regard as the most romantic era in the history of the region. Lumbering in the mid-nineteenth century brought many settlers, especially ones from Germany, Ireland, and Canada.[12]

Some neighborhoods of Muskegon began as separate villages. Bluffton was founded as a lumbering village in 1862 in Laketon Township. It had its own post office from 1868 until 1892. Muskegon annexed it in 1889.[13]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 18.12 square miles (46.93 km2), of which 14.21 square miles (36.80 km2) is land and 3.91 square miles (10.13 km2) is water.[14] The city is next to Lake Michigan to the west and Muskegon Lake to the north. The Muskegon River empties into Muskegon Lake at the city's northeast end.


Muskegon has a humid continental climate (Dfa) with hot summers and cold winters. Precipitation is very consistent year round. Muskegon receives heavy lake effect snow during winter time from Lake Michigan.

Climate data for Muskegon, Michigan (Muskegon County Airport) 1991–2020 normals,[a] extremes 1896–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 63
Mean maximum °F (°C) 50
Average high °F (°C) 32.5
Daily mean °F (°C) 26.6
Average low °F (°C) 20.7
Mean minimum °F (°C) 1
Record low °F (°C) −21
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.42
Average snowfall inches (cm) 29.1
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 16.3 12.9 10.9 12.5 11.3 10.0 9.1 9.1 9.4 12.6 13.5 14.9 142.5
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 14.4 11.7 5.4 1.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 4.1 10.9 48.1
Average relative humidity (%) 78.1 75.2 71.1 65.4 64.1 68.2 70.6 74.5 76.4 74.3 74.9 78.6 72.6
Source 1: NOAA[15][16]
Source 2: World Meteorological Organization (relative humidity 1961–1990)[17]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)36,565[4]−4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[18]

2010 census

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 38,401 people, 13,967 households, and 7,895 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,702.4 inhabitants per square mile (1,043.4/km2). There were 16,105 housing units at an average density of 1,133.4 per square mile (437.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 57.0% White, 34.5% African American, 0.9% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 2.6% from other races, and 4.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.2% of the population.

There were 13,967 households, of which 32.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.9% were married couples living together, 22.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.5% were non-families. 36.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.09.

The median age in the city was 34.1 years. 23.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 12.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 28.8% were from 25 to 44; 24.1% were from 45 to 64; and 11.6% were 65 years of age or older. The city's gender makeup was 52.1% male and 47.9% female.

2000 census

As of the census[5] of 2000,[19] there were 40,105 people, 14,569 households, and 8,537 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,794.5 per square mile (1,079.1/km2). There were 15,999 housing units at an average density of 1,114.8 per square mile (430.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 57.9% White, 31.7% African American, 2.3% Native American, 0.46% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.69% from other races, and 3.50% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any origins were 6.4% of the population.

There were 14,569 households, of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.2% were married couples living together, 20.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.4% were non-families. 34.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 25.8% under the age of 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 109.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 110.3 males.

The city's median household income was $27,929, and the median family income was $32,640. Males had a median income of $29,114 versus $22,197 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,283. About 16.8% of families and 20.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.6% of those under age 18 and 14.3% of those age 65 or over.


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Major employers


Locally owned shops and a farmer's market are found in the historic downtown with more shops along the Muskegon Lake waterfront and in neighborhoods. Regional shopping is found throughout the county to include major retailers such as Meijer, Walmart, Penny's and more.

Arts and culture

Music and fine arts

The Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts[20] includes two theaters (the main historic Frauenthal house and the smaller Beardsley Theater in the adjoining Hilt Building). It was refurbished in 1998, and runs JAM Theatrical productions, Muskegon Civic Theatre[21] productions, is home of the West Michigan Symphony Orchestra,[22] was the venue for all Muskegon Community Concert Association[23] events, and used to be home to the now-defunct Cherry County Playhouse. The Frauenthal was originally built as the Michigan Theater in 1929.

Muskegon has a well respected private collection of fine art at the Muskegon Museum of Art.[24]


The United States Post Office in Muskegon, 1904
The United States Post Office in Muskegon, 1904

A lackluster attendance in 2011 caused the cancellation of the 2012 Muskegon Summer Celebration festival.[25] A new festival, Rockstock (formerly Coast West[26]) has taken its place.[27] The Art Fair also returned in 2013.[28] The Art fair has grown to become one of the largest and well-attended art fairs in the State of Michigan.

Muskegon Bike Time[29] is held every July. The most well-attended aspect of Bike Time is Rebel Road – a 6 block stretch of Western Avenue in downtown Muskegon, when 50,000+ bikes and more than 100,000 visitors spend much of the 4-day festival. More than 100,000 people attended Bike Time and Rebel Road in 2016.

The Muskegon Motorcycle Club, organized in 1920, hosts the Hill Climb every other year, an American Motorcycle Association (AMA) sanctioned race.[30]

Each August, the Unity Christian Music Festival takes place at Heritage Landing. In May, Rock the Coast[31] takes place at Michigan's Adventure. Both are organized by Alive on the Lakeshore.

In September, the Michigan Irish Music Festival brings Celtic musicians to Heritage Landing on the shore of Muskegon Lake. Music, Irish food, beverages, merchandise and cultural exhibits are included. The Michigan Feis (Irish Dance competition) is affiliated and is held at Muskegon Catholic Central High School.

The Moose Fest occurs each August, and the Muskegon Polish Festival each September.[32][33]

In early October, the International Buster Keaton Society visit Muskegon to host their annual convention.[34] The event features public showings of Keaton films at the Frauenthal Theater.

Museums and theater

USS Silversides at The USS Silversides Submarine Museum, Muskegon, Michigan
USS Silversides at The USS Silversides Submarine Museum, Muskegon, Michigan

Broadway at the Frauenthal (fall through spring) brings Broadway musicals to Muskegon. Muskegon is also home to Muskegon Museum of Art and West Michigan Symphony Orchestra. The Muskegon Community Concert Association provides concerts from September through May.

Lakeshore Museum Center (formerly known as Muskegon County Museum)[35] and Hackley & Hume Historic Site: Mansions built by Muskegon's lumber barons themselves are restored to their old glory and open to the public. The Hackley & Hume mansions are part of downtown Muskegon's Heritage Village—two blocks from Muskegon Lake, and a National Register Historic District. The mansions are operated with the Lakeshore Museum Center, which details the grand, rich history of Muskegon County, from the Pottawatomi and Ottawa Native American tribes and lakeside fur traders to the Lumber Queen of the World to today. Also includes science and nature exhibits.

The Muskegon Museum of Art opened in 1980. Among the highlights of its permanent collection is Tornado Over Kansas, by John Steuart Curry (one of three leading painters, along with Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton, identified as Regionalists and known for their canvases celebrating the rural Midwest).[36]

Muskegon is also the home of the USS Silversides Submarine Museum[37] which features USS Silversides, a World War II submarine; USS LST-393, a World War II tank landing ship; and USCGC McLane, a Prohibition-era United States Coast Guard cutter.

In addition, Muskegon also berths Milwaukee Clipper, a former car ferry that traveled the same route as Lake Express does today. The ship (which is a National Historic Landmark) is in the middle of a long process of being restored to its original form, but in the meantime is open for tours and hosts a museum aboard the vessel with information on both Milwaukee Clipper, as well as the history of maritime in Muskegon. Muskegon is an historical port for commerce and lake travel. The lumbering era through World War II was its busiest historical use. Its image as a port the city has embraced with the local nickname 'The Port City'. It possesses a fine deep-water port and still functions delivering bulk cement, aggregate, and large cargoes to several lakeshore facilities, also coal to the B.C. Cobb power plant, an outdated coal-burning facility due to shut down.


Club Sport League Venue
Muskegon Lumberjacks Ice hockey United States Hockey League Mercy Health Arena
West Michigan Lake Hawks Basketball American Basketball Association Muskegon High School
Muskegon Mustangs Football Great Lakes Football League Oakridge High School
West Michigan Ironmen Indoor football American Arena League Mercy Health Arena
Muskegon Risers SC Soccer UPSL & Premier Arena Soccer League Mercy Health Arena and Kehern Stadium
Muskegon Clippers Baseball Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League Marsh Field

Previous sports teams to play in Muskegon have included:

Club Sport Played from League Stadium
Muskegon Lumberjacks/Fury (1992–2010) Hockey 1992−2010 IHL, UHL Mercy Health Arena
Muskegon Thunder Indoor football 2007−2009 IFL Mercy Health Arena
Michigan Mayhem Basketball 2004−2006 CBA Mercy Health Arena
Muskegon Lumberjacks (1984–1992) Hockey 1984−1992 IHL Mercy Health Arena
Muskegon Mohawks Hockey 1965−1984 IHL Mercy Health Arena
Muskegon Zephyrs Hockey 1960−1965 IHL Mercy Health Arena
Muskegon Lassies Baseball 1946−1949 AAGPBL Marsh Field

The Seaway Run is run every year in late June. It features a 15k race, 5k race, 5k walk for fun, 15k wheelchair race.

Parks and recreation

Muskegon Break Water Light on Lake Michigan, looking from Pere Marquette Beach
Muskegon Break Water Light on Lake Michigan, looking from Pere Marquette Beach

Muskegon State Park has a Winter Sports Complex that features ice fishing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and a luge track.

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park has many sand dunes as well as two campgrounds and a public beach for tourists to enjoy.[38]

Pere Marquette Beach is the largest free public beach on the western shore of Lake Michigan, and one of the loveliest in the state. Windsurfing, kite boarding competitions, and professional volleyball tournaments are held there. Its quartz sand beach is a Clean Beaches Counsel certified beach. The beach area is popular with cyclists, runners, and hikers, and sand dunes border the beach to the east.

Muskegon Lake is a first class walleye fishery and has many other freshwater species including the Lake Perch. Lake Michigan off Muskegon hosts large numbers of coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead, brown trout, lake perch and many other game fish.

Sailing and recreational boating are major summer pastimes with many services and marinas in the area for boats of all sizes.

Muskegon Lakeshore Bike Trail allows for biking along the shores of Muskegon Lake to Lake Michigan. There are two trails that consist the Muskegon bike paths, one runs along the east side of Muskegon and the other along the north side.

Michigan's Adventure, the largest amusement park in the state, is in Muskegon County, a few miles north of the city of Muskegon. Michigan's Adventure features a midway with roller coasters, general rides, amusements, and a full water park.


The city levies an income tax of 1 percent on residents and 0.5 percent on nonresidents. [39] The Michigan Department of Corrections operates the Muskegon Correctional Facility in southeastern Muskegon. The prison first opened in 1974.[40]


Muskegon Public Schools was founded in 1860 and serves students from preschool through 12th grade. Additionally, it runs the Muskegon Museum of Art and the Muskegon Training and Education Center. In addition to Muskegon Public Schools, Muskegon is served by these private K-12 schools: Muskegon Catholic Central, Fruitport Calvary Christian, and Western Michigan Christian.[41]

In 2010, North Muskegon High School was noted as the top performing public school in the State of Michigan by the state Department of Education.[42]

The City of Muskegon is also served by Muskegon Community College and Baker College.

Grand Valley State University's Muskegon Campus is home to the Muskegon Innovation Hub (formerly MAREC) and Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) inside the Lake Michigan Center in downtown Muskegon.

Western Michigan University, Ferris State University, and Grand Valley State University all operate programs out of the Stevenson Center for Higher Education on the campus of Muskegon Community College. It is designed so an undergraduate at MCC may transfer to any of the above schools and complete a bachelors and/or master's degree without leaving Muskegon.




Public transportation is provided by the Muskegon Area Transit System (MATS – "The Shore Line"), which operates nine bus routes, three trolley routes, and a paratransit system.[43] MATS and Greyhound serve the Herman Ivory Passenger Terminal.[44]

MATS operates the Muskegon Trolley Company. Three routes cover north side, south side, and downtown; each trolley stops at 11 locations, including Hackley and Hume Historic Site, USS Silversides, Muskegon State Park. (Memorial Day-Labor Day, daily; no trips during special events).

Commercial air service is provided by United Airlines at Muskegon County Airport (MKG). Other airlines service the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) in Grand Rapids.

Muskegon is the eastern port of the Lake Express High Speed Car Ferry that crosses Lake Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin offering three roundtrips a day in the summer, and two roundtrips in the fall. There are many bike paths starting to be built around the area.

CSX Transportation along with the Michigan Shore Railway provide rail service for many of Muskegon's industries. Rail passenger services ended in the 1960s. The nearest passenger rail available is via Amtrak in nearby Holland or Grand Rapids.

Several major highways serve the city, including:

Major roads


Until 1971 the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (successor to the Pere Marquette Railway) operated day and night trains from Union Station to Holland and Chicago.[45] The Grand Trunk Western and the Pennsylvania Railroad had earlier operated passenger trains out of another Muskegon station to various points in Michigan.[46]


In 1937 the Grand Trunk Western began operating ferries that met up with train and carried passengers and automobiles across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee. Earlier, the GTW had operated the ferries out of Grand Haven. The GTW stopped operating the ferries in 1978. The last remaining ferries across the lake would be the ones launching from Ludington, Michigan.[47][48]

Notable people

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Business and politics

Charles Hackley House
Charles Hackley House


Science and technology







Sister cities

See also


  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1991 to 2020.
  1. ^ "City of Muskegon". Retrieved 2012-12-28.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  4. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ "Muskegon". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  7. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  8. ^ Population of Michigan Regions and Statistical Areas, 2000 and 2010, at
  9. ^ a b c d "History of Muskegon". co.muskegon.mi.u. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  10. ^ Helen Hornbeck Tanner. Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987) p. 134
  11. ^ Sherman, Elizabeth B. (2003). Beyond the Windswept Dunes: The Story of Maritime Muskegon, p. 2. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3127-0.
  12. ^ "History of the Churches of St. Mary's, Our Lady of Grace & St. Jean Baptiste". Our Lady of Grace & St Mary Catholic Parishes, Muskegon. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  13. ^ Walter Romig, Michigan Place Names, p. 68
  14. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2011-02-20. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  15. ^ "NowData – NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  16. ^ "Station: Muskegon CO AP, MI". U.S. Climate Normals 2020: U.S. Monthly Climate Normals (1991-2020). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  17. ^ "World Meteorological Organization Standard Normals 1961–1990". World Meteorological Organization. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  18. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  19. ^ "Muskegon, Michigan".
  20. ^ "Frauenthal Center for Performing Arts".
  21. ^ "Muskegon Civic Theatre".
  22. ^ "West Michigan Symphony Orchestra". Archived from the original on 2013-06-17.
  23. ^ "Muskegon Community Concerts – Home". Archived from the original on 2016-04-03. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  24. ^ "Muskegon Museum of Art".
  25. ^ "Muskegon Summer Celebration Will Not Return In 2012". Channel 95.7.
  26. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2 January 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  27. ^ Alexander, Dave (February 9, 2012). "New Muskegon music festival to have a different look and feel, organizers promise". Muskegon Chronicle. Archived from the original on August 18, 2013. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  28. ^ "Muskegon summer art fair re-emerges as Lakeshore Art Festival".
  29. ^ Super User. "Muskegon Bike Time – Home".
  30. ^ "Welcome to the - Muskegon Motorcycle Club". Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  31. ^ "Rock the Coast is back for 2013 - May 24-25". Archived from the original on 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
  32. ^ "Muskegon Polish Festival". Muskegon Polish Festival. Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  33. ^ "Moose Fest 2019". West Michigan Tourist Association. Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  34. ^ "2014 Buster Keaton Convention". Archived from the original on 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  35. ^ Archived October 21, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ "History". Muskegon Art Museum. Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  37. ^
  38. ^ "P.J. Hoffmaster State Park". Archived from the original on 2015-11-17.
  39. ^ Gibbons, Lauren (August 16, 2017). "Michigan State University, city of East Lansing at odds over proposed income tax". MLive Lansing. Mlive Media Group. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  40. ^ "Muskegon Correctional Facility (MCF). Michigan Department of Corrections. Retrieved on June 3, 2011.
  41. ^ "District Information". Archived from the original on 26 October 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  42. ^ "North Muskegon High School top-performing in state; Muskegon Heights the lowest".
  43. ^ "MATS History". Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2009-05-06.
  44. ^, Stephen Kloosterman (2015-07-30). "Muskegon's new $2.8M downtown bus station to open Saturday". Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  45. ^ "Trains," "Passenger trains operating on the eve of Amtrak"
  46. ^ "Index of Railroad Stations, 1430". Official Guide of the Railways. National Railway Publication Company. 71 (3). August 1938.
  47. ^ "Canadian National Railway-Grand Trunk, Table 150". Official Guide of the Railways. National Railway Publication Company. 71 (3). August 1938.
  48. ^ Hofsomer, Don. Grand Trunk Corporation, The Canadian National Railways in the United States 1971–1992. 1995. Michigan State University Press. ISBN 18790-94703
  49. ^ Madden, W. C. (2005) The Women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League: A Biographical Dictionary (2005). ISBN 978-0-7864-2263-0
  50. ^ "Muskegon Actors' Colony – Home Page".

Coordinates: 43°14′03″N 86°14′54″W / 43.23417°N 86.24833°W / 43.23417; -86.24833