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The Village of Copemish, Michigan is in Cleon Township, northern Manistee County, in the western part of the Lower Peninsula.

With a population of just under two hundred, as of the 2010 census, Copemish has never been a large community. Its peak population was 490 in 1910 but, by 1920, it had lost more than forty percent of its population, due largely to the demise of its forest product industry.

Today, the village is a quiet residential community with some light industry, a restaurant, bank, an autobody shop, and retail establishments serving residents of the town and those passing through. There are opportunities for outdoor recreation, including several snowmobile trails, the First Creek Nature Trail, Twisted Trails Off-Road Park, and wooded areas for hunting and hiking. The nearby Betsie River offers fishing, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking.

First Creek winds through the southern part of the village. For many years the creek was dammed up to create Copemish Dam Pond, which still shows up on maps, but the dam was partially removed in 2000, and completely removed in 2003, and the former pond bed has been restored with trees and native vegetation.

The main route through the village is M-115 (Cadillac Highway), which runs northwest-southeast from the southeastern corner of the village to the northwestern corner. Other routes to or from the village include Faylor Road, Lake Road, Nessen City Road, Springdale Road, and Yates Road. Thompsonville is 3.6 miles north of Copemish, while Kaleva is 12.0 miles southwest, Mesick is 12.1 miles southeast, Buckley is 14.8 miles east, and Bear Lake is 15.2 miles to the west.

Copemish was founded as a railroad town serving the lumber industry. The forests in Cleon Township were rich in beech and maple, whereas pine predominated in other parts of the county. According to legend, a large beech tree was used as a meeting place for Native Americans, who referred to it as Co-pem-mish, with the accent on the "pem," and this is what game Copemish its name.

The Buckley Douglass Lumber Company, headquartered in Manistee, set up lumber operations in the area that was to become Copemish around 1883.

The village was formed in an area where two railroads were scheduled to meet, forming the junction of the Toledo and Ann Arbor Railroad and the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad, the latter of which reached Copemish in the fall of 1889. With the advantage of two railroads coming through the village and employment offered by the lumber industry, the town grew quickly. Before long, there were gristmills, sawmills, a factory, a drugstore, hardware store, grocery store, millinery shop, boarding houses, three hotels, and a newspaper. On January 11, 1890, a post office was established in Copemish, with Frank W. Clark as the first postmaster.

Two men named Harrington and Freeland built an opera house, although an early settler wrote that there was never any professional entertainment there, and certainly no operas. Instead, the building was used for home talent shows and dances and later became a grocery store.

Before 1900, a Congregational Church, a Methodist Church, and a Catholic Church were built.

According to state law, at the time a community of more than three hundred people living in an area of less than a square mile could petition to become an incorporated village. By 1891, Copemish had a population of 318 and, consequently, a petition was granted on January 7, 1891.

Online resources representing the village itself, or any individuals, businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, or events within the village are the focal point of this category.

 

 

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