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Situated in southwest Dickinson County, the City of Iron Mountain, Michigan is the largest city in the county and the county seat.

The City of Kingsford abuts Iron Mountain to the southwest, separating it from Wisconsin, but it is otherwise surrounded by Breitung Township. The city is about a hundred miles from Green Bay, Wisconsin, but about two hundred miles from the Mackinac Bridge, and hundreds of additional miles from Michigan's major metropolitan regions. Given its proximity to the Michigan-Wisconsin border, its economy and culture are more closely tied to Wisconsin than to Michigan. The Wisconsin towns of Aurora and Niagara are only 4.5 miles and 6.0 miles from Iron Mountain, respectively.

US-2 and US-141 run contiguously through the center of the city, with US-2 going east to Escanaba and west to Ironwood, while US-141 heads north toward Crystal Falls and south to Green Bay, Wisconsin. M-95 runs contiguous with US-2 and US-141 through most of the city, splitting off in the south to connect with Kingsford.

The center of Kingsford is 2.6 miles from the center of Iron Mountain, while Norway is 9.5 miles to the east. The unincorporated communities of East Kingsford, Skidmore, Quinnesac, Merriman, and Granite Bluff are within ten miles.

Iron Mountain gets its name from its role and position in the heart of the Menominee Iron Range. First noted in 1866, iron mining operations began with test pits in 1870, and the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad came through in 1877, largely to ship ore from the iron range. The peak of iron ore production was in 1920, but the industry began to decline in the 1930s, ceasing entirely by 1980. At various times, forty-seven mines were in operation in the Menominee Iron Range, with the Chapin, Ludington, Hamilton, Bradley, Walpole, Pewabic, and Globe mines located in Iron Mountain, while several others were nearby. Quinnesec was the first iron mining community in the area, but Iron Mountain became the predominant mining center in the region once the railroad was extended that far.

From 1920 to 1951, the Ford Motor Company operated an automobile body factory in Iron Mountain. The city's population peaked in 1930 at 11,652, then began a decline as both the Ford and iron mining operations were being phased out. Other than a 2.2% increase in 1990, the city has lost population each census year since 1930, and has a current population under 7,500.

Nevertheless, Iron Mountain and Kingsford are, together, the primary center for commercial and governmental activity within the county, and serving a larger surrounding area that includes a portion of Wisconsin.

Lake Antoine, in northeastern Iron Mountain, a 748-acre body of water with a maximum depth of 25 feet, is a popular place for swimming, boating, and fishing. The Lake Antoine Campgrounds, along the northeastern banks of the lake, is a 20-acre county park with ninety RV sites, two reservable pavilions, a bandshell, volleyball and basketball courts, horseshoe pits, and playgrounds.

The townsite was platted in 1879, and Iron Mountain was incorporated as a village in 1887, becoming a city the following year.

Local attractions include the Millie Mine Bat Cave. The Millie mine was the first concentration of iron ore discovered in Iron Mountain, although it later proved to be a branch of the main Chapin Mine claim. The abandoned iron mine is now home to one of the largest breeding populations of bats in North America. Its entrance is covered with a steel grate that prevents people from falling into the shaft, while allowing the bats to come and go as they please. Designated as a Michigan Wildlife Viewing Area, people come to view the bats at dusk during April and May, and in September and October when they enter the mine to hibernate.

Now located at the corner of Kent Street and Kimberly Avenue, the Chapin Mine Steam Pump Engine, also known as The Cornish Pump, is the largest reciprocating steam-driven engine ever built in the United States. Designated as a Michigan State Historic Site in 1958, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.

Housed in the former Carnegie Public Library, the Menominee Range Historical Museum features more than a hundred exhibits honoring life on the Menominee Iron Range from the late 1800s through the early 1900s.

The focus of this guide is on the City of Iron Mountain, Michigan. Online resources for the city or county governments, as well as local businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, events, and recreational or sporting events, are appropriate topics, along with websites discussing local history and issues.


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