Manitou Beach and Devils Lake are two unincorporated communities in the Irish Hills region of Lenawee County in the U.S. state of Michigan. In order to provide statistical information, the United States Census Bureau has defined Manitou Beach-Devils Lake as a census-designated place (CDP) that includes both communities. The statistical information pertains to the entire CDP, although local understanding of the area making up these communities may vary somewhat from the definition of the CDP. The population of the CDP was 2,080 at the 2000 census.
Devils Lake is at the northern end of Devils Lake on US 223 at . Manitou Beach is at the southwest end of Devils Lake at , approximately southwest of Devils Lake and about east-southeast of Addison. The CDP also includes the entire shoreline areound Devils Lake and the smaller Round Lake to the southeast. The Manitou Beach post office, with ZIP code 49253, serves most of the area of the CDP except for an area on the southwest north of Manitou Beach Road and south of Bean Creek and a smaller area on the northern end of Devils Lake. Both of these areas are served by the Addison ZIP code 49220. The Manitou Beach ZIP code also serves areas beyond the CDP area, including parts of southeast Woodstock Township, southwest Cambridge Township, northeast Rome Township, and central and northeast Rollin Township.
Devil's Lake was a Powtawatamie village until about 1830.
Manitou Beach, first noted by Euro-American settlers in the early 1830s, quickly became a favored resort in southeast Michigan by the turn of the 20th century. It quickly outgrew the comparably sized community of Devils Lake at the north end of the lake. Steam launches ferried tourists from the depot to the hotels and attractions, which included bath houses, a dance pavilion, pleasure craft rental facilities, a water slide, picnic areas and eating establishments. The name 'Manitou Beach' is derived from the Potawatomi name of Devils Lake, "Michemanetue", meaning, "Lake of the (evil) Spirit".
The Manitou Beach post office was established on March 20, 1889, with Columbus F. Becker as the first postmaster. The office was discontinued on December 31, 1892, and reestablished on January 17, 1893. Manitou Beach was also as station on the Cincinnati, Jackson and Mackinaw Railroad (later part of the Cincinnati Northern Railway).
Devil's Lake was said to have been named by the Potawatomi leader Meteau (or Mitteau) after his daughter, who was an able swimmer, drowned in the lake and her body was never recovered. Meteau believed her to have been taken by evil spirits. The first white settlers here arrived in 1833. The Devils Lake post office was established on October 19, 1885, with John B. Allen as the first postmaster. The office was discontinued on October 31, 1936. The Detroit, Toledo and Milwaukee Railroad had a stop at Devil's Lake.
The Manitou Beach region was devastated by an F4 tornado during the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak of April 11, 1965. Most of what was destroyed was rebuilt, including the dance hall and two churches. Over the course of the past four decades, the resort has few reminders of the tornado. A book on the tornado was compiled from 2000 to 2002 by local author Dan Cherry, and published in the summer of 2004.
Other books published on the lake resort include Lake Reflections by Margaret Brighton and the Lakes Preservation League (1996), Ho! For Devils Lake by Barbara Page Roys (1998), and Along the Trails of Michemanetue, released by Cherry in 2009.
In 2010, the community of Manitou Beach continues to draw vacationers, and because of its popularity, one by one the small seasonal cottages are being replaced by large, year-around homes.
The Devils Lake Drive-In-Church, a drive-in movie theater, closed its doors after 58 seasons due to the death of its operator.
The Manitou Beach Inn, a long-time staple of the business community, was destroyed by fire January 3, 2010.