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Surrounded by Crystal Falls Township, except for a small area that borders on Mastodon Township to the south, the City of Crystal Falls, Michigan is the seat of Iron County.

US-141 and US-2 meet on the west side of Crystal Falls, running concurrently along Crystal Avenue, then turning south onto 5th Street, meeting the eastern terminus of M-69 at the intersection of 5th Street and Superior Avenue, continuing south out of the city. The center of Alpha is 5.3 miles south-southwest of Crystal Falls, while Iron River is 15.5 miles west, Gaastra is 16.0 miles west-southwest, and Iron Mountain is 27.9 miles southeast.

With origins in the timber and mining industries, Crystal Falls has experienced declining populations every census year since 1910 and is currently a residential community with some light industry and commercial businesses serving its year-round population, as well as seasonal tourists and visitors seeking outdoor recreation.

The city owns and operates its own hydroelectric plant that provides a portion of the electricity used by its residents, and has operated its own cable television system since 1958. The city also has a 9-hole municipal golf course and a park on Runkle Lake, with a sandy beach, playground, picnic areas, and camping facilities.

The falls, for which the city was named, was eradicated with a power plant was built in the 1890s, backing water up into a reservoir and rerouting it through the power turbines. Today, the power plant supplies about one-third of the city's electricity needs, the remainder purchased from the Wisconsin Electric Power Company.

Founded by George Runkel, Solomon D. Hollister, and William Morrison in 1880, the town was platted for George Runkel and James H. Howe by John Pumpelly in 1881, and named for a picturesque falls on the Paint River, which flows through Crystal Falls, emptying into the Brule River. A post office was established on September 28, 1881, with Julia Runkel as the first postmaster. Originally in Marquette County, it became part of Iron County when it was set off in 1884, at which time Crystal Falls was designated the county seat. Incorporated as a village in 1889, Crystal Falls became a city in 1899.

By the early 1880s, Crystal Falls was one of the most significant iron mining towns in the Upper Peninsula. Hollister and Runkel were partners in the Crystal Falls Iron Company. By the time the Chicago and North Western Railroad came through Crystal Falls in 1882, there were six active mines.

The first mine in the Iron County area was either the Fairbanks Iron Mine or the Paint River Mine in Crystal Falls. Opened in 1882, the Paint River Mine operated until 1913. The Great Western Mine was active from 1882 to 1910, while the Youngstown Mine was in operation from 1882 to 1897, and was reopened as the Bristol-Youngstown Mine in 1949. The Bristol Mine opened in 1892 and was the last operating mine in the area when it closed in 1969. The Dunn Mine opened in 1887 and closed in 1901. Other mines in the Crystal Falls region included the Armenia, Carpenter, Cayla, Columbia, Fortune Lake, Genesee, Hagerman, Hilltop, Hollister, Hope, Lawrence, Kimball, Lamont, Lee Peck, Lincoln, McDonald, Monongahela, Odgers, Ravenna-Prickett, Richards, and Victoria.

Logging has always been an important part of the Crystal Falls economy, and remains so today, although the job is not as labor-intensive as it once was. While lumber is transported to market by truck today, in the early lumber era, they were driven downriver to a sawmill and moved to the rivers by horse-drawn sleighs. The Paint, Net, Fence, Brule, Deer, Hemlock, and Michigamme Rivers all served as highways for the transport of logs.

The focus of this category is on the City of Crystal Falls, Michigan. As such, online resources representing the city itself, or any individuals, businesses, industries, organizations, churches, schools, attractions, and events within the city are appropriate for this guide.


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