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Dollar Bay, Michigan is an unincorporated community in southwestern Osceola Township, extending west into Franklin Township as far as Goat Hill Road, and south into Torch Lake Township.

Recently included as a census-designated place, Dollar Bay has defined borders, although the Dollar Bay post office serves a larger area.

Situated in Houghton County, Dollar Bay gets its name from the small inlet of Portage Lake, the body of water that separates the Keweenaw Peninsula from the remainder of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is across the bay from the City of Houghton and Michigan Technological University.

M-26 (Royce Road) is the chief route through the community. Others include Airport Park Road, Coal Dock Road, Engman's Road, Goat Hill Road, and Upper Port Mills Road. Incorporated municipalities nearby include Hancock, Houghton, Lake Linden, Calumet, and Laurium, and the surrounding unincorporated communities include Ripley, Mason, Quincy Mill, Franklin, Paavola, Point Mills, Tamarack City, Hubbell, Pilgrim, Osceola, Tamarack, West Tamarack, Bootjack, and Dreamland.

The community is centered along the northern shores of the bay, with Portage Lake to the south, and Torch Lake to the northeast. As it is on the southern Keweenaw Peninsula, portions of Lake Superior are to the northwest and the southeast. Originally known as Clark, Dollar Bay began as a lumbering town, although fur trading and copper mining were conducted nearby as early as 1846. These industries brought immigrants from Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Slovenia, and Sweden.

Beginning around 1846, timber surveyors acquired large tracts of virgin timber along Portage Lake. However, mining was also a part of the settlement's beginnings. The Dollar Bay Land and Improvement Company was created by officials of the Tamarack and Osceola Mines. Originally, the mining company built ten log houses, some of which are still standing, although they have been added to and changed substantially. These ten homes were occupied by settlers in July of 1887. The Hancock & Calumet Railroad extended its line to Dollar Bay to serve the mining operations, establishing a station there. This later became the Mineral Range Railroad. A copper rolling mill was built in 1887 by the Tamarack-Osceola Manufacturing Company, but the manufacture of sheet copper was unsuccessful as a business venture. A post office was established at A.M. Schulte & Company, a grocery, meat market, and dry goods store, at Dollar Bay on February 2, 1888, with Frank Naun as postmaster.

Soon, a sawmill was established, followed by a wire mill. A smelter was built and consolidated with one in Hancock as the Lake Superior Smelting Company. Other than the copper produced by the Calumet & Hecla mines, most of the copper smelted in the region for several years was smelted by the Lake Superior Smelting Company. During this period, Dollar Bay had a population of more than two thousand people.

Dollar Bay was platted in 1899 and named Village of Clark, in honor of Joseph Clark, president of the Clark Bigelow Syndicate, which was responsible for building the Tamarack & Osceola Mines. As there was a post office in Marquette County by the name of Clarkville, the post office's name was changed to Dollar Bay to avoid confusion.

Following World War I, the Calumet & Hecla Consolidated Copper Company acquired the property of the Lake Superior Smelting Company, and closed the smelter in Dollar Bay. The properties of the Dollar Bay Land and Improvement Company were acquired by John A. Roebling Sons of New Jersey, which operated the wire mill until its closure during the Great Depression. The sawmill was sold to the Dollar Bay Lumber Company, which operated it during the depression. In 1930, the Horner Flooring Company Mill was built, offering work for several people during the depression. It expanded, employing as many as a hundred and thirty people, while the wire mill also resumed operations under a new name, Essex Wire. In 1939, the Copper Country Cheese Co-operative was organized and established a factory in Dollar Bay. The first school in Dollar Bay was built by the Dollar Bay Land and Improvement Company in 1888. Originally two rooms, it was soon enlarged to eight rooms, and a high school was built in 1914.

Now that the timber and the mines are gone, due to its proximity to Lake Superior and several other lakes and bodies of water, Dollar Bay is popular as a summer resort and for year-round outdoor recreation. Although platted, the village has never been incorporated.

 

 

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