The Village of Alpha is on the Heritage Trail tour and includes the historic Porter School and Alpha Museum, both in the Alpha Circle Historic District. Several buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. The Village of Alpha was incorporated in 1914, which also marked the opening of the K-12 Alpha Porter School. The last class to graduate from Porter School was in 1967. Several small businesses are now located in the former school, as well as a summer/fall farmers market held on the school grounds. As of the 2010 census, the village population was 145.
The unincorporated community of Amasa is home to renowned NBA and NCAA basketball flooring manufacturer, Connor Sports Flooring. The community began in 1910 as a Finnish iron mining and logging boom town of just over 1,000 people. Now with a population of 283, Amasa residents are largely employed in the forest products industry. Attractions include the Amasa Historical Society Museum, which includes replicas of a trapper’s cabin and old time barber shop.
The City of Caspian’s development mirrors the expansion of the mining industry on the west side of the county after the turn of the century. At one time, six mines operated in the immediate area, including the Caspian from which the settlement took its name by 1913. Caspian was incorporated as a city with a commission-manager form of government in 1950. The city includes the Iron County Multi-Purpose Building/Ice Arena, Apple Blossom Biking and Walking Trail, Caspian Community Center and an Industrial Park. Caspian is also home to the Iron County Museum that comprises 25 buildings that make up the Heritage Village. The museum is home of the Lee LeBlanc Wildlife Art Gallery.
Crystal Falls is the county seat of Iron County and was named for the falls on the Paint River. The city’s heritage includes early iron mining and timber exploration. The pride of downtown Crystal Falls is the 1890 Romanesque-style Iron County Courthouse, which sits on top of the hill and affords those who tour it a stunning vista of the countryside. The Harbour House Museum is also located in the city. The city owns and operates its own hydro-electric plant and cable TV system. Its industrial park is located one-half mile west of town. The local golf course overlooks the Paint River and offers 9-holes of challenging play. As of the 2010 census, the population is 1,469.
Gaastra is named after Douwe Gaastra, a building contractor and real estate speculator who bought the land in October 1908 and platted the town. It was incorporated as a village in 1919 and as a city in 1949. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 347.
Iron River is the largest city in Iron County and home to the Upper Peninsula Championship Rodeo, held in late July each year, and the Iron County Fair. Like other communities in the county, it owes its existence to the iron first mined here in 1879. In a 2000 election, adjoining Stambaugh and Mineral Hills were consolidated with Iron River, adding about 1,500 citizens to Iron River, now pop. 3,029. The city has a new, 18-hole disc golf course (The Tailings), which has already drawn good reviews. Ski Brule, one of the Northwoods busiest ski hill complexes, is located just a few miles south of the city.
Whether they were born and raised or were graciously accepted as a transplant, they’re Yoopers and proud of it. From their way of life to the recent addition of “Yooper” to the dictionary, there’s plenty to boast about. The rest of the nation can joke about the 906 not having internet or running water–Yoopers are proud of who they are and what they stand for.
Iron County is one of the Upper Peninsula’s best kept secrets. From camping to fishing, hunting to canoeing, mountain biking to forest bathing – no matter your interests, the great outdoors and clear crisp air await you here.