Iron County History
Iron County is located in the southwestern part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, bordering Wisconsin. Iron County was named after the iron ore that was discovered in 1846, when a surveyor noticed an abnormal compass reading on the Paint River near Crystal Falls. Several years later, another surveyor found a five foot high outcrop of iron ore. By 1880, the Crystal Falls Iron Company was formed.
In 1891, during a poker game of commissioners to see which town would become the County Seat, two of them left the game, stole the county records and ran off to Crystal Falls, where the courthouse was built after a quick and shady "referendum" was passed. Twenty-three of the area's twenty-six mines went out of business during the 1894 depression. However, the area's second industry, lumbering, kept the economy going. There was a brief revival of mining during the early part of the twentieth century but the last mine closed in 1978.
Although Iron County has no Great Lakes shoreline, tourism has become the major industry. Fishing, hunting, skiing, canoeing and camping attract many visitors to the area during all year around.