St. Helen, Michigan

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St. Helen is an unincorporated community in Richfield Township, Roscommon County in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is a census-designated place (CDP) for statistical purposes and has no legal status as an incorporated municipality. The population was 2,993 at the 2000 census. The ZIP code is 48656.

Contents

History

In the 1870s, lumber baron Henry Stephens established a large lumber operation at St. Helen,[3] considered at the time to be among the largest and best equipped in the state. The mills were estimated to have produced more than 1 billion board feet (2,000,000 m³) of lumber within a period of fourteen years. Most of the logs were moved by river, but lumber was also moved by rail.

The St. Helen Development Company was organized to sell land and promote development of the area, and over seven years sold 80,000 acres (320 km²) of land and helped to build more than 30 miles (50 km) of roads and over 80 miles (130 km) of fencing.

St. Helen was named after the Lake. It is believed that French voyageurs named it after Saint Helena of Constantinople, mother of Emperor Constantine.

The Detroit, Bay City & Alpena Railroad (later the Michigan Central, then the Detroit and Mackinac Railway and presently the Lake State Railway Company) built a line through the area with a station at St. Helen. The now decommissioned M-76 passed through St. Helen and portions are still signed as "Old 76". St. Helen has survived based on tourism and proximity to the lake.

Geography

  • The area of the CDP covers an area on the southeast side of Lake St. Helen, which is the headwaters for the south branch of the Au Sable River. There is a large boat ramp and park located just east of town to provide easy lake access. Canoeing, kayaking and fishing are popular on the river.
  • According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 5.9 square miles (15.3 km²), of which, 5.0 square miles (13.1 km²) of it is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km²) of it (14.86%) is water.
  • St. Helen is considered to be part of Northern Michigan
  • Over 90% percent of the township is located in the Houghton Lake State Forest. There are many RV, snow mobile and two-tracks trails.
  • St. Helen is near part of the Au Sable State Forest including
    • Roscommon FMU (Ogemaw and Roscommon counties).

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