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The Village of Chatham, Michigan is in eastern Rock River Township, Alger County, in the Upper Peninsula.

Michigan State Highways 67 and 94 are the chief routes through the village. M-67 is a north-south state highway that connects with US-41 and M-94 between Trenary and Chatham, entering Chatham in the south and ending at the point that it meets with M-94, which is an east-west highway that enters the southern quadrant of the village from the east, turning north at the M-67 terminus, then continuing west near the center of the village. Other routes through the village include Eben Road, Nykkanen Road, Rock River Road, Samanen Road, Swanberg Road, and Tunteri Road.

Munising is 18.0 miles northeast, Marquette 31.1 miles northwest, and Escanaba 46.9 miles south of Chatham. Smaller communities nearby include Slapneck, Eben Junction, Forest Lake, Limestone, Kiva, Mathias, and Traunik.

Slapneck Creek is in the northern segment of the village, while Bohemian Creek is in the south.

Today, Chatham is largely residential, with a few small businesses, some of them housed in residences, and many of them serving the area outdoor recreation industry. A major snowmobile trail passes through just north of the village, following the abandoned Soo Line railroad grade, and the Chatham Ski Hill northeast of the village is used for downhill and cross-country skiing. The Eben Ice Caves are a popular destination in nearby Eben Junction. During the summer, mountain biking and hiking are popular activities, as Chatham and the surrounding region is home to several streams, rivers, and lakes.

Chatham hosts the annual Alger County Fair and Homecoming celebration at the Rock River Township Recreation Area each August, attracting thousands of people from throughout the Upper Peninsula and Midwest, including Chatham alumni now residing elsewhere.

Chatham has been the seat of township affairs since the township was organized. The village had its own beginnings as a lumber camp, established by James Finn in 1896, and named for Chatham, Ontario. As the center of logging operations in the region, Chatham also became a base for land agents and regional commerce.

To serve the lumber industry, the Munising Railway established rail service to Chatham in early 1896, opening a depot there. That same year, John Gattis opened a store across the depot, and he became the first postmaster when a post office was established in his store on January 19, 1897.

As the village grew, John Gattis formed a partnership with Chan Brown, together operating a general store and livery stable. When the partnership dissolved, Gattis resumed operating his store, while Brown ran the livery stable. Another early business was Levy's Saloon, which was the site of the Chatham post office for many years. When the saloon burned in 1911, Ed Levy moved his saloon to the Pacific Hotel, which he had built in 1904. Over the years, the hotel housed many of the people who came to town, and served as a hospital during the 1918 flu epidemic and was even used as a rest home for a while. It then became the Village Traveler Restaurant and, under new management, it was renamed the Rock River Cafe.

Other early businesses included Hillman's Store and Land Office, John Nymark's Dry Goods and Clothing Store, Anton Johnson's General Store, the Frank R. Hill Store, Joachim Hill and Ivar Samuelson's Saloon, and Joachim Hill's Boardinghouse, as well as a bakery, creamery, sawmill, and blacksmith shop. From 1907 to 1945, the Alger County Infirmary, known as the Poor Farm, was situated on eighty acres in the south end of the village. After its closure, the house was converted to apartments.

Since 1915, Chatham has hosted the Alger County Fair, although the village has never served as the county seat.

With a population of just over two hundred today, Chatham has never been a large town. Census records were not maintained for the village until 1970, at which time its population was 246. Its population peaked at 315 in 1980, although it is believed to have had a larger population in the early 1900s, while its lumber operations were going strong.

The focus of this guide is on Chatham, Michigan. Websites representing the village or any individuals, businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, or events are appropriate for this category.

 

 

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