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Come Home to Michigan

1/2/2017:

With the establishment of a post office, the town of Michigan City, North Dakota officially came into being on this date in 1883, and first train arrived in March.

The town’s name was at times the cause of some confusion. Shortly after the founding of the town, a carload of iron ore bound for Michigan City, Indiana wound up on the railroad siding in Dakota Territory. To avoid further confusion, the town was listed as Michigan on railroad invoices and timetables. The name of the town is still officially Michigan City, but residents refer to it as Michigan.

By May, 1883 lots had been sold in Michigan and businesses were established. In August East Michigan was plotted, and there was speculation that it would become a business center, but it never caught on, and what few businesses had given East Michigan a try, relocated to Michigan proper.

Michigan grew quickly. Methodist Episcopal, Catholic, and Congregational Churches were established. At one time, there were five grain elevators in town. As the town grew, improvements were made. Wooden planks were laid to aid pedestrians crossing the streets at several locations. A school was built. By 1895, Michigan boasted a thriving business district. By 1901, the population was about five hundred people.

In 1906 disaster hit as fire destroyed the business district. However, it was almost entirely rebuilt, and that same year the citizens voted unanimously to incorporate the village into a city. A new bank building was added, and cement sidewalks were installed.

However, there were hard times ahead. The Flu Epidemic of 1918 closed churches, schools, and businesses. The Dirty Thirties brought drought, dust, and grasshoppers. Many farms failed, and Michigan’s population decreased. 1945 brought a fatal train wreck.

The outlook brightened with the boom that followed the end of World War II, brining an extended period of peace and prosperity. In 1983 Michigan celebrated its centennial with a three-day event. The population at that time was 502. As the new century dawned, the population had dipped to 435, but there were still signs of growth. The town added a new gas station and a medical clinic as well as retail and office space. The residents have overcome many hard times, and look forward to the future.

Dakota Datebook Written by Carole Butcher

Sources:

Michigan, North Dakota. “Come Home to Michigan.” "http://www.michigannd.com/index.asp?SEC=E0E68722-FE79-4930-AF57-3E25CF349AA2&Type=B_BASIC" http://www.michigannd.com/index.asp?SEC=E0E68722-FE79-4930-AF57-3E25CF349AA2&Type=B_BASIC Accessed 21 November, 2016