Mastodon Township’s original people were the Anishanabe; the
people of the Three Fires, Ojibwa, Odawa and Potawatomi. After
Columbus returned to Spain, a wave of exploration began as news of
the “New World” reached Europe. Some of the earliest explorers to
our area were the French who were zealous to convert the Native
American to the Christian Creed. A young explorer, Etienne Brule,
lived with the Native Americans and mapped out new water-ways,
thus the “Brule River” came to be as the dividing line between
Wisconsin and Michigan. In 1775 President Thomas Jefferson
designated all territory west of the Allegheny Mountains to the
Mississippi River and from the Ohio River to the Canadian Border
as the Northwest Territory. Five states were to be formed from this
territory, one of them being Michigan.
Mastodon Township was formed in 1885 and is located in Iron
County, in the southwest portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Mastodon Township is made up of 83,789.80 acres containing the
Village of Alpha as well as numerous lakes, rivers, streams, wooded
areas, and agricultural land. The permanent resident population of
Mastodon Township according to the 2020 census was 668.
Historically, iron ore mining was the major source of income for the
area. According to local legend, while sinking a mine shaft,
mastodon bones were discovered and, on this basis, Mastodon
Township received its name.
Mastodon Township has an abundance of wildlife, four very distinct
seasons, and numerous activities available. As a result, our economy
is mainly based on small businesses, year-round tourism and
logging. It truly is a quiet, peaceful place to visit, play and live.
A Little History
The 4th of July is probably one of the most important days in the calendar
year for both the Township and the Village of Alpha. It is the time when
people from all over the United States "go home" to visit with family and
friends or return to the place they have vacationed all their lives. The day
begins at 9 AM at the Alpha Village Hall with a flag raising ceremony, a
variety of speeches, followed by a parade led by the local children, and
ending with the driving of the fire truck and the marching of the volunteer
fire department personnel.
Continue reading about Fourth of July in Alpha by clicking here.
Fourth of July
Mastodon Township is a civil township of Iron County in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of
the 2000 census, the township population was 668.
The Village of Alpha is within the township.
The Brule River forms the southern boundary of the township, with the Town of
Florence in Florence County, Wisconsin on the other side of the river.
Camp 5 area by Peavy Dam.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 135.3
square miles (350.5 km²), of which, 126.6 square miles (327.9 km²) of it is land and 8.8
square miles (22.7 km²) of it (6.47%) is water.
Coordinates: 46°2′2″N 88°19′4″W
As of the census of 2000, there were 668 people, 314 households, and 205 families residing
in the township. The population density was 5.3 per square mile (2.0/km²). There were 689
housing units at an average density of 5.4/sq mi (2.1/km²). The racial makeup of the
township was 99.40% White, 0.30% from other races, and 0.30% from two or more races.
Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.60% of the population. 21.3% were of Polish, 20.8%
German, 14.7% Finnish, 6.9% Swedish, 5.9% English, 5.9% Italian and 5.1% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.
There were 314, households out of which 18.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.7% were married couples living together, 3.5% had a
female householder with no husband present, and 34.7% were non-families. 30.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.5% had someone
living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.60.
In the township the population was spread out with 17.4% under the age of 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 19.8% from 25 to 44, 31.9% from 45 to 64, and 26.0% who
were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50 years. For every 100 females there were 108.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were
The median income for a household in the township was $27,917, and the median income for a family was $39,231. Males had a median income of $26,667
versus $23,125 for females. The per capita income for the township was $16,823. About 6.3% of families and 13.2% of the population were below the poverty
line, including 22.5% of those under age 18 and 6.3%
of those age 65 or over.
Total 135.3 sq mi (350.5 km²)
Land 126.6 sq mi (327.9 km²)
Water 8.7 sq mi (22.7 km²)
Elevation 1,365 ft (416 m)
Density 5.3/sq mi (2.0/km²)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
- Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
FIPS code 26-52300
GNIS feature ID 1626708
Mastodon Township, Michigan
Village of Alpha
The boundaries of Mastodon Township were established in 1885. While searching for iron ore deposits, large prehistoric bones were discovered thus the
township was given the name Mastodon. Mastodon Township is the 3rd largest in Iron County.
Early surveyors noted the presence of iron ore outcroppings and an abundance of white pine. The area was populated by a few Native Americans from the
Menominee and Chippewa (Ojibway) tribes. To a growing nation, the iron ore and lumber were much needed and so attracted many mining and lumber
companies. The jobs created brought many European immigrants to the area and established the need for railroads to carry passengers and to haul iron ore. The
Stager Train Depot was constructed in 1881 by Chicago Northwestern to serve that purpose. The settlement around the depot was referred to as Stager and the
nearby lake’s name was changed from Bass Lake to Stager Lake.
As news of huge ore deposits spread, more settlers flocked to this area and the Village of Alpha was platted and designed. The building lots sold fast. The
business district in town even had a “round about” or Civic Circle as residents called it. The Alpha Train Depot soon followed as did the Porter School in 1914.
The growing population required service industries and soon the town had a hotel, bank, several stores both grocery and mercantile, several bars and pool
rooms, dance hall, theater, barber, and mechanic garage. A village government and fire department were formed to protect and serve the interests of the
While Alpha continued to grow and develop, so too did the outlying regions. The rich soil attracted many settlers to areas such as Pentoga, the Buck Lake
district, Dunn Location, and Camp Five. These areas also built school houses of their own to serve the local children. Pentoga had a train depot for passengers
and for shipping potatoes from the large Kalla Walla and Kinney farms in this area. Other farms raised dairy cows and chickens to sell the milk and eggs.
Eventually the supply of white pine was depleted and the demand for iron ore lessened causing the shutdown of many local mines and logging operations. The
boom was over and the population decreased as younger adults moved out to find work. Although the forest industry is still important here, modern methods
and machines do not require as much human labor. Mines such as the Book, Judson, Balkan, Dunn, Alpha, and others were abandoned. There are no active
mines in the township today. The farming that still exists is on a much smaller scale.
Fortunately, the beauty and natural resources of this area are still enticing to many people. Tourism has become a major industry because of the excellent
hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, off-road trails, snowmobiling, and just sheer beauty of this area. The forest industry is still big and many small businesses still
operate. Mastodon Township continues to attract new people and many move to this area as they retire to enjoy the peace, serenity, and beauty.