Curtis is an unincorporated community in Mackinac County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The community is located within Portage Township. As an unincorporated community, Curtis has no legally defined boundaries or population statistics of its own but does have its own post office with the 49820 ZIP Code.
The area was originally inhabited by the Chippewa, and the first white settler to arrive in the area was John Lee. He arrived in the area in 1884 and lived among the Chippewa, sharing a hut with Chief Saw-Naw-Quato for 18 months. In 1886, the federal government granted land patents to John Lee and several Chippewa members. Lee settled on a plot of land on the shores of South Manistique Lake, and other family members and settlers began moving to the area.
The new community became known as Portage, and it was located along the narrowest stretch of land separating Manistique Lake and South Manistique Lake. The name was changed to Curtis when a post office was first established on November 15, 1905. The community was named after William L. Curtis, who was a politician who served as a state senator from 1902–1906. The community was officially platted in 1906 and was also known as Sawaquanto Beach. The post office has continuously remained in operation and is currently located at W17194 Main Street in the center of the community.
By 1907, Curtis had a population of around 75 residents. The community grew to include two saloons, a laundry facility, two general stores, and two hotels. That year, a railway line was constructed by the Manistique and Lake Superior Railroad. The community received a train depot, which connected it to many of the Upper Peninsula's lumber communities. Numerous cottages and resorts were constructed in hopes that Curtis would flourish when the area's lumber resources were exploited. However, the Manistique and Lake Superior Railroad abandoned the train depot soon after in 1910. The community's population dwindled to only 25 residents by 1913. The remaining residents instead turned their focus toward farming and fishing. The depot closed but was occasionally used by lumber companies through the 1920s until the lumber resources in the area were depleted. After that, the depot was demolished, and the railway lines were removed. The community was able to sustain and steadily grow due to its proximity to numerous lakes that provided good hunting and fishing opportunities.
Without the railway, Curtis depended on roadways for traveling. M-135 was a state highway first commissioned in 1928. It ran just east of the community and connected to M-28 to the north and US 2 to the south. The state highway was decommissioned in 1960. In 1970, the road was given its current designation as H-33. Also in 1970, the main roadway through Curtis was designated as H-42, which provides direct access to M-77 to the west and H-33 to the east.
The Woodlawn Cemetery, also known as the Curtis Cemetery, is located in the community along Curtis Road just east of the center of the community. Established in 1930, it is an active cemetery with its oldest grave site dating back to 1910.