Itâ??s always special to live in a town that's famous for something. And in Iron Mountain and Kingsford, that famous flair came in the form of a Ford.
Fordâ??s entrepreneurial and creative mind, combined with Edward Kingsfordâ??s knowledge of the U.P. and its resources, led to an event that's published in most history books: the opening of the Ford plant.
Guy Forstrom, a local historian and author, explained the impact that these two men had on the Upper Peninsula.
â??Mr. Kingsford was largely responsible for talking Henry Ford into building the plant at its location, just outside of the Iron Mountain city limits, in what is now the city of Kingsford,â?? said Forstrom.
The plant used northern timber, here in the U.P., to create the well-known and hand-crafted Ford vehicles. "They would saw lumber here, and they would cut those parts out and dry the wood,â?? explained Forstrom. â??They would ship the cut parts to Detroit where they were assembled into the bodies; so they would rough out all the pieces here,â?? he added.
But what Henry Ford later came to realize was that by using all of this wood, the plant was left with another resource. â??What would come at the end of the distillery is lump charcoal. He had 80 tons of lump charcoal a day at its peak,â?? said Forstrom.
Ford and Kingsford understood the saying â??waste not, want not," and so the charcoal briquette industry soon became something else the people could be proud of.
â??Grilling as we know it pretty much came from Henry Ford,â?? added Forstrom.
At the peak of its industry, the Ford plant employed around 7,000 people; an economic boom that had a major effect on the communities of the western Upper Peninsula.