On June 24, 1873, the Elk Rapids Iron Co. produced its first blast of iron. Elk Rapids was once one of the nation’s greatest producers of iron. Its furnace stood 47 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter. The logging firm of Dexter and Noble selected Elk Rapids for its furnace because of vast stands of hardwood timber that sat ready for the taking. The company turned the hardwood into charcoal used to fire the furnace. The company was the town’s major employer until around World War I when the hardwood forests had been depleted.
Source: Michigan Every Day