Furnace: Fayette Furnace, Fayette, MI

Began → Fayette Furnace → Became

From: 1867

Owned by: Jackson Iron Company

Produced: Pig iron

Method: Charcoal kilns, blast furnaces

Railroad connection: None

Until: 1891

Lifetime Production: 229.288 tons.


Fayette was once one of the Upper Peninsula's most productive iron-smelting operations. Fayette grew up around two blast furnaces, a large dock, and several charcoal kilns, following the post-Civil War need for iron. Nearly 500 residents—many immigrating from Canada, the British Isles, and northern Europe—lived in and near the town that existed to make pig iron. During 24 years of operation Fayette's blast furnaces produced a total of 229,288 tons of iron, using local hardwood forests for fuel and quarrying limestone from the bluffs to purify the iron ore. When the charcoal iron market began to decline, the Jackson Iron Company closed its Fayette smelting operations in 1891. Another event leading to the demise of the Jackson Iron Company was the use of the hardwoods and limestone to purify the iron, leading to the exhaustion of hardwoods in the area. This was the main source for purifying the iron and therefore led to the decline of the Jackson Iron Company. After shutting down operations, many residents left Fayette in search of employment elsewhere, though some chose to stay nearby and used the land for farming.

Because of the closing of smelting operations, the town became a resort and fishing village. In 1916 it was purchased by a wealthy individual and turned into a summer resort. It continued in that capacity until 1946 when another individual purchased it, who eventually fell behind on taxes. Lastly, it was purchased by the Escanaba Paper Company, and was swapped to the Michigan government for timberland. As a result, Fayette became a state park in 1959. [Wikipedia]