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Situated in eastern Jerome Township, near the center of Midland County, the Village of Sanford, Michigan is northwest of the City of Midland.

The Tittabawassee River winds through the village, forming a portion of its northern boundary, as well as a portion of its southern boundary. The Salt River forms a small portion of its western boundary just before it empties into the Tittabawassee.

The chief route to and from Sanford is US-10, which passes through the northern part of the village. Other routes include Saginaw Road, 7 Mile Road, River Road, and Meridian Road, the latter of which forms the eastern border of the village. Cities and villages within twenty-five miles of Sanford include Midland, Coleman, Beaverton, Rosebush, Auburn, Merrill, Clare, Breckenridge, and Gladwin, while the unincorporated communities of Averill, North Bradley, and Hope are within ten miles of the village.

Sanford first appeared on a census roll in 1970, with a population of 818. At the time of the 2020 census, there were five fewer people. In between, its peak population was 943 in 2000.

Sanford was named for Charles S. Sanford, who came to the area in 1864, acquiring 213 acres in the area that's now included in Sanford, as well as 100 acres of pine timber in Midland County. Soon, he was operating an 80-acre hay farm and a hotel, serving as Justice of the Peace, and township clerk.

Between 1860 and 1870, four towns were formed in Midland County: Averill (Red Keg), Edenville (Camp 16), Hope, and Sanford, the latter of which was previously known as the Salt-Spring Reserve. The area that became Sanford became the site of the first salt well in Michigan when Douglass Houghton, state geologist and surveyor, supervised sinking the shaft of the well.

Although a settlement existed prior to that time, Sanford was officially platted in 1870, and named Sanfordville for Charles Sanford, who had arranged to have the village platted. Another early settler was John Brooks, a veteran of three wars. Mr. Brooks settled in Sanford in 1870, remaining there until his death. He died a couple of weeks short of his 103rd birthday.

The Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad was completed as far as Sanford during the spring of 1871, at which time a station was established there. Later operated by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and the CSX Railroad, the line continued until 1987, when they were discontinued and later removed. Today, the Pere Marquette Rail Trail (PMRT) occupies a 28-mile railroad corridor from Midland to Clare, passing through Sanford. The trail is open for walking, running, biking, rollerblading, and other non-motorized uses. The first part of the trail opened through Midland in 1993, and the trail is a Michigan Rails to Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame trail.

On June 23, 1871, a post office was established, with its name shortened to Sanford. Jay F. Hamilton was the first postmaster.

Like many Michigan communities, Sanford's early economy was heavily dependent on the lumber industry and the railroad. Logs were floated down the Tittabawassee River and shipped on the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad.

In the mid-1920s, the Sanford Dam was constructed by Frank Wixom in order to produce electrical power. This created Sanford Lake, a 1,250-acre reservoir that became a popular recreation spot, with two public access points and several private accesses. The lake was filled by 1925. Sanford Lake Park was created on the west side of the lake, near the dam, while the shoreline was mostly developed with single-family homes. However, in May of 2020, the Sanford Dam, as well as the Edenville Dam to the north, failed after a period of prolonged rain, resulting in heavy flooding of Sanford, Midland, Saginaw, and the surrounding areas, as well as the emptying of the lake.

This part of our web guide is focused on the Village of Sanford, Michigan. Online resources for the municipal government, as well as local businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, entertainment venues, and recreational vehicles, are appropriate topics for this category.


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