Henry Ford was not just a figure that is connected to Detroit…he was also a major force in the Upper Peninsula as well.

The story of the Kingsford Ford sawmill begins in 1916 when Ford, Thomas Edison and Henry Firestone began their annual camping trips to the Upper Peninsula. Did they live off the land? Heck, no. They brought all the utensils and equipment they needed to cook steaks, chicken, and whatever else their favorite foods were. Forget sandwiches, burgers, eggs n’ bacon.

Meanwhile, Edward Kingsford was manager of a Ford dealership in Iron Mountain – he was married to Ford’s cousin, Minnie Flaherty. So Ford contacted his cousin-in-law and told him of the plans he had for lumbering in the U.P. Kingsford handled the details for the purchase, and soon 313,000 acres of land near Iron Mountain belonged to Henry Ford’s Motor Company. On that land was constructed a huge complex which included a major sawmill and hydroelectric plant.

Banana 101.5 logo
Get our free mobile app

I guess as a way of thanks, Ford made Kingsford vice president of all his Upper Peninsula operations. And Ford went a step further. This land became chartered as a village in late 1923 which Ford named Kingsford, honoring his cousin-in-law.

What to do with all the wasted wood from the sawmill? Ford built a chemical plant in 1924 which was able to make products from the discarded wood. Even the residue coal was used – it was formed and sold as “Ford Charcoal Briquettes”. In 1951 Ford sold the chemical plant operation to a group who soon called themselves the Kingsford Chemical Company. They continued making the briquettes and re-named them to what we know them as today: Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes. It closed in 1961, and the briquettes are now made in California.

Take a look at some photos of the abandoned old sawmill and plant in the gallery below!

Abandoned Ford Sawmill, Kingsford


Michigan Cider Mills

The Old Mills of Michigan

The Windmills of Michigan


More From Banana 101.5