Aviva Directory » Local & Global » North America » United States » States » Michigan » Cities & Towns » Wakefield

The City of Wakefield is in Gogebic County, in the western part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The nearest large population center is the Superior/Duluth area, more than a hundred miles to the west, and Wausau, more than a hundred and thirty miles to the south. The Mackinac Bridge is more than three hundred miles from Wakefield and hundreds more miles to the major metropolitan areas of Michigan. As such, Wakefield is economically and socially closer to Wisconsin and Minnesota than to Michigan.

Sunday Lake, Plymouth Open Pit Lake, and a smaller body of water, are entirely within the city limits, on the west side. Portions of the Black River and the South Branch of the Little Black River are within the city, as well.

The chief routes through the city are US-2 and M-28. US-2 is an east-west highway that runs 2,571 miles across the northern continental United States. The western segment begins at an interchange with I-5 in Everett, Washington, and ends at I-75 in St. Ignace, Michigan, while the eastern segment begins at US-11 in Rouses Point, New York, and ends at I-95 in Houlton, Maine. M-28 is an east-west state highway that runs across the Upper Peninsula, from Wakefield to Bruce Township, near Sault Ste. Marie.

Only three Michigan cities or villages are within fifty miles of Wakefield: Bessemer, Ironwood, and Ontonagon. The unincorporated communities of Thomaston, Ramsay, Anvil Location, Connorville, and Tula are within ten miles. However, several Wisconsin localities are within fifty miles of Wakefield. These include Hurley, Montreal, Pence, Kimball, Iron Belt, Winchester, Saxon, Oma, Presque Isle, Carey, Anderson, Gurney, Mercer, Boulder Junction, Sherman, Lac du Flambeau, and Agenda.

Once an iron mining town, Wakefield's economy is now based on the forest industry and recreational tourism.

Mining in the Wakefield area lasted for more than seventy years. Peaking in the 1920s, its last iron ore mine, the Sunday Lake Mine, closed in 1960. At various times, Wakefield's iron mines included the following mines: Alpha, Brotherton, Castile, City of Chicago, Comet, Iron Chief, Meteor, Mikado, Morgan, Pike, Pilgrim, Plymouth, Sparta, Sunday Lake, Vicar, and Wakefield. Plymouth was an open-pit operation that closed in 1952, leaving behind the Plymouth Open Pit Lake.

When the Sunday Lake Mine closed in 1961, the city's economy shifted from mining to forest products. Logging had been a significant part of the local economy from the start. In cooperation with Gogebic County, a forestry project began in the early 1940s to demonstrate that with proper management and selective cutting, forest resources could be perpetuated. Wakefield logging businesses continue to be in operation, supporting lumber and plywood mills throughout the county.

Businesses providing goods and services, such as restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, bars, gas stations, hardware stores, drug stores, and other commercial operations support the needs of area residents, recreational tourists, and passersby on the US and state highways.

The city and surrounding area supports year-round tourism. The Ironhead Mountain ski resort opened in 1959, attracting summer and winter tourists, and area hiking, camping, and fishing are popular during the summer months.

Before the city was founded in late 1884, the area was known as the Sunday Lake District, although early maps, from the mid-1800s, identified the lake as Iron Lake.

Early iron exploration was conducted by George Fay, Frank Brotherton, Charles E. Wright, Cornelius Gillis, George M. Wakefield, and others, as early as 1879, leading to the establishment of the Brotherton and Sundal Lake iron mines in the mid-1880s.

Originally, supplies were brought to the area along a path that ran from the west shore of Lake Gogebic, about fifteen miles to the east. In 1884, the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway laid track to a point not far from Sunday Lake, at which time the area became known as Wakefield Station. The MLS&W merged with the Chicago & North Western Railway in 1893.

A post office was established on June 12, 1886, with James W. Bedell as postmaster, and the community was incorporated as the village of Wakefield in 1893, becoming a city in 1919.

Online resources for the municipality and other governmental entities within the city, as well as local businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, events, entertainment venues, and recreational opportunities, are appropriate for this category, along with informational sites focused on the City of Wakefield.



Recommended Resources

Search for Wakefield on Google or Bing