L'Anse, Michigan

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L'Anse (pronounced /ˈlɑːnts/ lahnts) is a village in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Baraga County.[3] The population was 2,107 at the 2000 census. The village is located within L'Anse Township.

In French, L'Anse roughly translates as "the cove," a reference to its location on Keweenaw Bay, at the base of the Keweenaw Peninsula. French explorers sighted the location of L'Anse in the 17th century.



The village of L'Anse was founded in early 1871 when Jacob Houghton, chief engineer for the Houghton and Ontonagon Railroad, arrived to plat a preliminary route from the eastern end of Lake Michigamme to the head of the Keweenaw Bay. The village was to become a port and house numerous stamping mills for the nearby iron ore mines.

The Michigan Railroad Board of Control approved the transfer of the Marquette and Ontonagon Railroad's land grant on March 30, 1869, and the Houghton and Ontonagon Railroad incorporated on January 17, 1870. On April 19, the board conferred the grant upon the new corporation, providing that the new railroad construct and place 10 miles (16 km) continuous in good running order before December 31, 1871, and 30 miles (48 km) continuous before December 31, 1872.

Houghton started surveying for right of way on April 1, 1871. During the course of that year, the railroad hired a surveyor to plat a new town, constructed a merchandise dock, and dredged the mouth of the Falls River.

Area residents proposed several names for the new town site, including Fall River and Iron City, but a majority decided on L'Anse. Lots went on sale in August 1871, and businessmen flocked from the Copper Country and Marquette to open general merchandise stores, a general hardware and iron warehouse, three bakeries, a shaving and hair dressing salon, paint shop, tobacco and cigar store, several hotels, a dance hall, a railroad office, and a bank, among others. The railroad constructed a warehouse on its merchandise dock, which received cargo from the numerous vessels that made the trip to the head of the bay; numerous shipments of rails, two locomotives, and several flat cars were also included.

By January 1872, more than half of the work had been completed on the 35-mile (56 km) roadbed, but the railroad had to apply for an extension from the Board of Control because it had not completed track laying on the first 10 miles (16 km). Crews worked throughout the winter to make up for lost time; and almost 1,000 men labored in the deep snow and subzero temperatures. About 10 miles (16 km) of rail had been laid by May 1872, but ballasting was nearly impossible because of the severe freezing.

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