401 River St
Elk Rapids, MI 49629
P.O. Box 2
Elk Rapids, MI 49629
Dan LeBlond, President
The mission of the Elk Rapids Area Historical Society, a non-profit organization, is to assemble, preserve, protect, and exhibit in the Elk Rapids Area Historical Museum, collections pertaining to the history of the village, its people, and community life. Our focus is especially on Elk Rapids’ role in the 19th and 20th centuries as an important lumbering and related industries, cement, chemical and pig iron smelting center, strategically located on the convergence of Elk River and Grand Traverse Bay. As a research and educational institution, we plan to be both an active participant in the historical and cultural tourism focus of Elk Rapids and a focal point for students of all ages to participate in historical studies and activities of the Elk Rapids and Chain of Lakes Region.
Elk Rapids, Antrim County: The first white settler of Antrim County was Abram Scranton Wadsworth, a government surveyor and
native of Durham, Connecticut. In 1838 Mr. Wadsworth built a log cabin near the present site of the Elk Rapids Town Hall. He laid
out the lots of the village in 1852 and the asking price was $25 per lot. Mr. Wadsworth built a sawmill and has been credited with
naming some of the bodies of water in Antrim County. The school district was organized in 1853 and the post office was
established. The village was known as Stevens. In 1863 the first newspaper - the Elk Rapids Eagle, was established.
In 1864 Dexter & Noble built saw mills, a lumber yard, grist mill and a boat dock on Lake Michigan. The charcoal blast furnace
turned out 24 tons of pig-iron per day and employees in Elk Rapids numbered 365. There were seven churches and seven saloons.
By 1910 the hardwoods had been logged off and the industry died out.
A cement plant was erected in 1890 and later moved to Petoskey. Population sank to 684 during the depression in 1930. Today Elk
Rapids remains a peaceful picturesque village with an appeal to tourists and residents alike.
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