MICHIGAN GHOST TOWN: Nothing’s Left of Gibbs City Except the Name
Gibbs City is a true ghost town…nothing is left of the downtown. There may be a scant few scattered houses nestled within the woodsy countryside, but Gibbs City—as it once was—does not exist. You'll find it in the U.P.'s Iron County, in Iron River Township.
It was founded in the late 1800’s under the name “Atkinson.” A sawmill was constructed along the Paint River, but Atkinson couldn’t make a go of it. Enter a man by the name of R.F. Gibbs. In 1915, he built a brand new sawmill that was successful enough to bring more businesses and over 200 residents to the community, which they re-named “Gibbs City.”
Things went well until a fire broke out in the sawmill in 1921. From there, people abandoned the town except for a few who refused to leave.
The post office remained operable until it finally gave up in 1952. With the remaining downtown buildings abandoned, officials came in a burned them all down.
If you visit and explore, you may be able to find bits and pieces of wood and other building scraps in the downtown area and in the woods. In the Paint River, there are still some old pilings visible from the old sawmills.
Also if you visit, be careful if you investigate the little “nowhere” side roads…even though many of them go nowhere, some of them are driveways of current residents. Respect all private properties and have fun!