Houghton County in the Keweenaw Peninsula is proud of their many tourist locations...one of those is Dollar Bay.

As for the name, it confuses me. It seems a lumberman by the name of Captain Dollar bought land here sometime between 1846-1880 and built a sawmill on the bay of Portage Lake. Coincidentally – or so it’s been written –  the area was already called “Dollar Bay” because the bay was “round as a (silver) dollar.” Coincidence, confusion, reality, or just plain speculation?

The town was platted in 1899 and called the "Village of Clark", after Joseph Clark, president of the Clark Bigelow Syndicate. When the post office started operating, they realized there was another post office called Clarkville in nearby Marquette County, so to avoid confusion, the post office was dubbed Dollar Bay.

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Officials of local mines created an improvement company, and in the 1880s began building ten log houses, a copper rolling mill, another sawmill, a wire mill, and a smelter.

Dollar Bay was living up to is name – it greatly prospered in the early 1900s and the population reached 2,200. After World War I, the smelter shut down and was destroyed. Not cool. Many people were put out of work. But there were still plenty of businesses to keep the economy going: the Copper Country Cheese Co-op, dry goods store, grocery, meat market, and post office. The cheese co-op was strong and supplied the Keweenaw with all the dairy they needed.

The first high school was built in 1888 but legal hassles with the land owner ended up in the school being torn down...all that is left now are the concrete steps. A new brick school - “Dollar Bay High” - was built in 1914.

Vintage Photos of Dollar Bay, Houghton County:1900-1920s


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