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The city of Bangor, Michigan is in Van Buren County, in the southwest segment of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

Bangor is mostly in northeastern Bangor Township, while a portion extends into northwestern Arlington Township, although the city is governmentally independent of either township.

The chief route through Bangor is M-43 (Monroe Street), which runs southeast-northwest through the center of the city, while CR-376 (Arlington Street) runs east-west through the lower part of the city, and CR-661 (Center Street) is a north-south route that passes just east of the city center. The village of Breedsville is 4.6 miles northeast, while Lawrence is 9.2 miles south. The city of Hartford is 9.8 miles south-southwest, and South Haven is 11.5 miles northwest. The larger city of Kalamazoo is about thirty miles north-northwest.

The South Branch of the Black River winds through the northern segment of the city, and Lake Michigan is about ten miles to the west.

Bangor is situated along Amtrak's Pere Marquette line, and the Bangor Depot serves passengers along this passenger train route between Chicago and Grand Rapids.

When European-Americans first came to the area, it was a dense hardwood forest. The combination of its forest resources and the river contributed to its development. Charles U. Cross is acknowledged as the first permanent settler in the area, when he came with Jay R. Monroe in 1834 to survey the property that his uncle, Samuel Payne, had acquired from the government, and recognized the value of the significance of the river and the timber resources.

The following year, Cross and Monroe were hired to build a road from South Haven to Paw Paw, and the road passed through the property owned by Payne. This road is now known as Monroe Street. By 1846, there were several families in the area, including the John Smith, John Southard, and Caleb Northrop families, who had arrived shortly after Cross.

Cross arranged to have a water mill built along the Black River, which powered a sawmill that produced the lumber that built the town of Bangor. At that time, the new town was part of South Haven Township.

In 1853, Bangor Township was separated from South Haven. The new township was originally named Marion Township, but its name was changed to Bangor Township only a few days later, probably after Bangor, Maine. When it was organized in 1854, the town took the name of the township.

Joseph H. Nyman came to Bangor in 1856. He purchased the Cross sawmill and enlarged the dam to produce sufficient electricity to power a cotton mill and a grist mill. His three mills and another mill just west of town, built by John and Christian Funk, were among the first businesses in Bangor. The mills provided goods, services, and employment that attracted additional settlers in the 1850s, and also supported a growing commercial district. M.P. Watson opened a retail store in 1852 that later became the Sebring House Hotel.

A post office was established in Bangor on February 9, 1859, with Joseph Nyman as the first postmaster. Nyman also platted a village, which was recorded in 1860. Another plat was recorded by Cross in 1867, and the town was incorporated as a village in 1877. In 1870, the Chicago & Michigan Lakeshore Railroad extended its tracks through Bangor, greatly strengthening local businesses and agricultural operations through improved access to distant markets.

In 1872, the Bangor Furnace Company operated a blast furnace in Bangor, burning wood into charcoal to aid in the smelting of iron ore to manufacture pig iron. At its peak, the company employed four hundred men and a hundred and twenty-five teams of horses, clearing a square mile of wood every year. Local timber resources were depleted by the late 1880s, but thousands of acres of fertile farmland had been created, prompting a shift from an industrial center to a farming community.

Today, the city enjoys a mixed economy, as its commercial center serves people in the surrounding area, further aided by its active railroad station. The river, the surrounding lakes, a robust parks system, and its position as the trailhead for the Bangor-South Haven Heritage Water Trail, provides for outdoor recreation for residents and visitors.

The focus of this guide is on the city of Bangor, Michigan. Websites representing the city, as well as those of local businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, and events, may be found here.


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