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Situated in western Eveline Township, the community of Ironton, Michigan is on the south shore of Lake Charlevoix, and on the west side of the lake's southern arm, just over five miles east of Lake Michigan.

The unincorporated community is in Charlevoix County, in the northwestern part of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. In 2010, Ironton was designated as a census-designated place (CDP), giving it defined boundaries, albeit only for the purposes of the census. The CDP is bounded by Sequanota Road to the west, Sequanta Club Road to the north, and Saunders Road to the south, following Saunders Road and the south arm of Lake Charlevoix to the south, almost to Birch Court.

The chief route through the community is M-66, which roughly follows the course of the lake along the west banks of its south arm, and connects Ironton to Charlevoix to the northwest, and East Jordan to the south. Ferry Road intersects M-66 downtown, and the Ironton Ferry crosses a narrow point of the south arm of the lake, connecting with the eastern portion of Eveline Township.

Cities and villages within twenty miles of Ironton include Charlevoix, East Jordan, Ellsworth, and Boyne City. The CDP of Horton Bay is across the lake, although the driving distance is about seventeen miles.

With a surface area in excess of 17,200 acres, Lake Charlevoix is the third-largest inland lake in Michigan that occupies parts of six townships: Bay, Charlevoix, Evangeline, Eveline, Hayes, and Marion. In operation since 1876, the Ironton Ferry is a designated Michigan Historical Site. Crossing a narrow portion of the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix, the ferry saves about twenty minutes of driving time around the south arm. Given its current name in 1926, the lake was previously known as Long Lake and Pine Lake.

As its name implies, Ironton was founded by the iron industry. Robert, president of the Pine Lake Iron Company, came to the area to start an iron plant in 1879, and the plant was in operation by 1881, turning iron ore into pig iron, which was transported to market via Lake Charlevoix to Lake Superior at Charlevoix. The company employed as many as three hundred workers, many of whom resided in Ironton.

The Pine Lake Iron Company opened a company store in 1879, and a post office was established on January 31, 1881, with Leslie E. Hildreth as postmaster. A school and a church were opened later that year, the latter affiliated with the Methodist Society. In 1884, the townsite was platted by E.K. Robinson, and a second church opened that year.

The iron company was successful for a while. In the first few years, it processed about thirty thousand tons of iron ore, but the company failed in 1893, stopping production at that time. Within ten years, the population of the village dropped to around a hundred and fifty people, and most of its businesses moved or closed their doors.

Although Ironton was never incorporated, the community didn't die. Agriculture in the region proved to be profitable enough to support some commercial businesses, and the lake drew people in. Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, Ironton had two general stores, a hotel, two carpentry shops, a masonry business, and two blacksmith shops.

One thing that helped the community survive was the ferry. Built in 1883, the first ferry across the south arm of what was then known as Pine Lake was a wooden scow that needed a ferry worker to pull the vessel along by hand. In 1927, the old ferry was replaced by a new one, named the Vessel Charlevoix, which is still in use today. Operating from mid-April through mid-November, the ferry crosses about a hundred times a day, carrying cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Adjacent to the ferry is The Landing Restaurant, which has seating arranged so that diners can watch the ferry. The community also has public beach access, a marina, and a place where boats and jet skis can be rented.

Although it gets busier during the summer months, there are fewer than a hundred and fifty year-round residents of Ironton. The Ironton post office closed on December 30, 1965. Currently, residents and businesses in Ironton receive their mail through the Charlevoix post office.

The unincorporated community of Ironton, Michigan is the focus of this portion of our guide. Online resources for information about the village, as well as local businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, events, and sports and recreational opportunities are appropriate here.



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