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The City of East Tawas, Michigan is situated on an isthmus between Tawas Lake to the north and Tawas Bay, on Lake Huron, to the south. Tawas City is adjacent to East Tawas to the southwest.

The chief route to and through the city is US-23, which largely follows the coastline of Tawas Bay. Other routes include Cranberry Pike and Tawas Beach Road. Nunn Road connects with M-55 to the west, and Monument Road connects with Wilber Road, also to the west.

Interested in harvesting the Michigan pine that grew in the area, Smith, Van Valkenburg & Company, a New York firm, sent George P. Smith, the son of a senior member of the firm, to the area in 1862. He chose a site on Tawas Bay, east of what is now Tawas City, but was then an emerging community centered around a sawmill operated by the Whittemore Lumber Company.

Before long, Smith, Van Valkenburg & Company had a sawmill in operation. Purchasing additional land from the Whittemores, and platted a townsite. On April 15, 1867, Christopher C. Parker became the first postmaster of the new town.

Following the American Civil War, East Tawas experienced rapid growth. However, a conflict with the Whittemores at Tawas City over the location of a road into the interior, Baldwin Township was split off from Tawas Township, with East Tawas in Baldwin Township, while Tawas City remained in Tawas Township. While the Whittemores had the political pull to persuade the county to build the Plank Road, the Smiths wanted their own road and got it. Originally known as the Thompson Trail, today it is named Monument Road.

The founding mill company, reorganized as Smith and Westover, was sold to the East Tawas Manufacturing Company in 1869, the principles in that company being Colonel Henry J. Noyes, Orlando Hurd, and J.L. Wickes. After another sale, the Smiths again took possession of the mill.

The two fledgling towns, still unincorporated, were both growing, but East Tawas soon outgrew its neighbor, both in population and in the number of businesses and industries. East Tawas was incorporated as a village in 1887 and became a city in 1895, the year that the Detroit and Mackinac Railroad came through, establishing a station in East Tawas. Most of the D&M's officials, as well as its workmen in the mechanical shops, train operating crews, and office staff, lived in East Tawas. The D&M continued in business until 1991, although the former rail yard is now the site of a Wal-Mart store.

By that time, the city had a commercial dock at the foot of Newman Street, and other mills working the area were owned by Temple Emery, William M. Locke, and the East Tawas Salt and Lumber Company. A waterworks system was constructed in 1887, its pumping station combined with a municipal light and power plant, which was in operation until it was sold to Consumers Power Company in 1916. Made of wood, the original water lines were in use until 1938 when they were replaced during a WPA project.

The peak production year for the lumber industry in Iosco County was 1891, after which it began a rapid decline due to the depletion of the Michigan pines. However, in East Tawas, the city purchased two mill sites, and Holland and Emery Lumber Company built a modern sawmill to manufacture lumber, using white pine harvested in Canada and towed across Lake Huron to East Tawas. Emery owned the log towing company and his original mill, and Holland moved his mill equipment to East Tawas from the Saginaw River. In response, the city turned the property over to Emery, and a new mill was built. That same year, a new office building and store were built on the corner of Newman and Bay Streets, and the Holland Hotel was built on the opposite side of Newman Street.

Unfortunately, a tariff dispute with Ontario led to the end of Canadian logs, and the new enterprise, although a much smaller mill owned by Walter Gardner and William Richards remained in operation well into the 1900s.

The railroad brought the tourist and resort industry to the region, offering excursion trains to its Tawas Beach Park, and promoting sportfishing along its route. The community that grew up around the D&M Railroad's beach park became known as Tawas Beach, which had its own railroad station, and a post office was established there on June 12, 1903, with William Sutherland as postmaster. Tawas Beach was absorbed by East Tawas in 1922.

By the 1920s, the auto industry was bringing tourists and vacationers to East Tawas. New businesses soon included gas stations, tourist cabins, restaurants, and real estate offices. The former mill site became East Tawas State Park in 1920, but ownership reverted to the city in 1965.

The focus of this category is on East Tawas, Michigan. Online resources representing the city or any businesses, industries, schools, churches, or organizations within the city are appropriate for this category.


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