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Situated in Gogebic County, in the western Upper Peninsula, the City of Ironwood is the westernmost city in Michigan.

Ironwood borders on Hurley, Wisconsin to the west, Ironwood Township to the north, Bessemer Township to the east, and Erwin Township to the south and east. Cities, towns, and villages within twenty miles of Ironwood include the cities of Bessemer and Wakefield, in Michigan, as well as the Wisconsin cities of Hurley and Montreal, and the Wisconsin towns of Pence and Kimball.

The main routes to and from the city are US Highways 2 and 51. US-2 runs largely east-west across the northern section of the city, while US-51 separates Ironwood from Hurley in the northwestern corner of the city.

Originally an iron mining town on the Gogebic Iron Range, the area is now known for its resorts catering to downhill and cross-country skiing.

Mount Zion Park is just north of Ironwood, while Norris Park is to the south, and the larger surrounding region includes portions of the Ottawa National Forest, the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest, and the Chequamegon National Forest.

Iron ore was first discovered in the Gogebic Iron Range in the late 1800s, and European-American settlement of Ironwood began in 1884, quickly becoming the commercial center of the Iron Range. Ironwood was platted by the Milwaukee, Lake Shore, and Western Railway, which later became the Chicago & Northwestern, in 1885. Ironwood was named for James (Iron) Wood, a railroad employee who was prominent in iron mining deals.

Several iron mines were opened in Ironwood, including the Ashland, Aurora, Newport, Norrie, and Pabst mines, while others were in the immediately surrounding region. Both the mining and logging industries brought settlers to the area from other parts of the United States, as well as immigrants from England, Finland, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Sweden. According to the 1920 census, nearly forty percent of Ironwood residents were immigrants, and more than ninety percent had at least one parent who was born outside of the United States.

A post office was established in Ironwood on January 22, 1886, with George E. Kelly as the first postmaster. Incorporated as a village in 1887, Ironwood became a city in 1889.

The Pabst Mine Disaster took place on September 24, 1926. A mine shaft at the Pabst Iron Mine collapsed, killing three miners, and trapping forty-three others underground for more than five days. Their food ran out before the second day, and the only nourishment they had was tea made from birch bark scraped from wooden planks and heated on carbide lamps.

Although the Pabst Mine soon reopened, other area mines began closing in the 1920s. The technology for purifying taconite for iron ore from open-pit mines elsewhere resulted in underground mines being less profitable, and there was a sharp decrease in demand for iron during the Great Depression. The last iron mine in Ironwood closed in 1965, although mining continued on a limited basis in the region until 1995, when the White Pine Mine closed.

Due to a decline in both the mining and the logging industries, Ironwood's population has declined every decade since 1920, when the city's population peaked at 15,739, and today its population is under 5,000.

Although various economic development efforts to promote tourism and outdoor recreation in the region, taking advantage of its high annual snowfalls and mountainous terrain, have been largely successful, these service industries don't employ the number of people who had previously worked in the mines and forests.

Ironwood includes three distinct neighborhoods, each associated with historical mining camps: Aurora, Jessieville, and Norrie.

Situated at the intersection of South Range Road, Frenchtown Road, and Brogan Street, the Aurora Mine was owned by the Oliver Mining Company, and the neighborhood began as homes for miners employed there. The mining location was never platted as a distinct village.

Northeast of Aurora, Jessieville served as a housing town for the Iron King and Pabst mines, and once had a station along a spur of the Milwaukee, Lake Shore, and Western Railway. A post office was established there on January 26, 1887, with Mary L. Downs as the first postmaster. The post office operated until June 12, 1891. Reportedly, Jessieville was named for the girlfriend of a local miner.

A mining camp rather than a village, Norrie was housed employees of the Norrie Mine. The Norrie neighborhood is southwest of Aurora, north and east of the Montreal River.

The focus of this guide is on the City of Ironwood, Michigan. Appropriate resources may include websites representing the city, as well as local businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, events, and recreational and sporting programs and opportunities.


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