Elk River, Entry to the Chain of Lakes of Antrim County
As shown in the above photograph taken in c1910, the Elk River and Chain of Lakes provided a means of transporting logs to the Dexter & Noble sawmill and a shoreline site where cord wood was made into charcoal fuel for the iron furnace. This photograph, taken from the top of the sand dune at the northwest corner of the US-31 intersection where the traffic light is now located, captures the industrial development on the shore opposite of where you are currently standing. Pictured from left to right is a road heading east, which is the approximate route of present day Ames St., with a rail road bridge for transporting iron ore shipped from the Upper Peninsula to the large ore stock house. There the ore was fired in the furnace with charcoal made in the adjacent beehive shaped kilns.
The Dexter & Noble iron furnace was built in 1872, produced its first blast of pig iron in the amount of 16 tons on June 24, 1873. At the height of its operations, the furnace produced 100 tons per day, using 170 tons of iron and an equal amount of charcoal by volume, and lime stone for flux. From the smoke of the kilns, the chemical plant, located approximately
The first charcoal pig iron exported from the United States to England was produced at this furnace at Elk Rapids in 1885. The furnace produced pig iron from 1872 to 1915 and was dismantled shortly after.
The plant was operated by various owners:
The Dexter & Noble Co. 1872-1881
Elk Rapids Iron Co. 1881-1907
Lake Superior Iron & Chemical Co. 1907-1915
In the foreground is the steamer 'Ruth', tided [sic - tied] up at the landing, about where the highway bridge is today. The 'Ruth' hauled people and freight up the Chain of Lakes as far as Bellaire. The dock was used for freight and passenger boarding.
If You Were Standing on This Spot in 1776 you would be standing in a cedar plain approximately 300 feet from the shore of what became known as the Elk River and entry point to the Chain of Lakes. In the 1850's a dam was built across the Elk River on the site of the Dexter Noble sawmill just a short way downriver from this site. By 1872 this spot was void of any large living trees as they had been cut for lumber, and in that year, across the Elk River, Dexter and Noble had just built a large pig iron furnace.
In 1916 an electric power plant was added at the dam site to provide power for the local industry and residences. This Spot was a wetlandsarea, filled in the late 1950's, when the Michigan Department of Transportation relocated highway US-31 from a route through Elk Rapids to the location along the Elk River.
This display donated by the Elk Rapids Rotary Club ©2005.
Information provided by the Elk Rapids Area Historical Society.
Erected 2005 by Rotary Club of Elk Rapids.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Environment • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Rotary International series list. A significant historical date for this entry is June 24, 1873.
Location. 44° 53.805′ N, 85° 24.559′ W. Marker is in Elk Rapids, Michigan, in Antrim County. Marker is on the east side of the Rotary Park Pavilion, which is on the right while traveling north on U.S. 31. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Rotary Park, 305 US 31, Elk Rapids MI 49629, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Early Elk Rapids and the Elk River (here, next to this marker); Elk Rapids (here, next to this marker); Land of Anishinabek (here, next to this marker); Why All of the Stumps? (here, next to this marker); Rotary Park "Centennial Project" (a few steps from this marker); Because of the Water...
Also see . . . Elk Rapids Waterfront Cultural Landscape Report. (Submitted on September 25, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 7, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 25, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 238 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 25, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.