Dates in the History of Chassell, Michigan

Chassell History by Decades, just Highlights of the History, John Chassell, founder of Chassell, Chassell Photos, Questions We Have,

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Either scroll down and read the whole history, or click below to jump to these years:

early 1800's, late 1800's, early 1900's, mid 1900's, late 1900's, or  present day

First, a little back ground history of this general region:

   Hundreds and even thousands of years ago Native Americans undoubtedly lived in areas of what we now call Chassell Township. It is well known there were Chippewa/Ojibwa Indian communities established at Portage Entry. They ate wild berries, hunted wild game, fished, made sugar and gathered wild rice; they also grew corn, beans and pumpkins on a small scale. Even major battles fought among the Indian tribes took place there (in 1730, between the local Chippewa and invading Iroquois). Many artifacts were found along Portage Entry. Just a few miles south, in Keweenaw Bay, Indian burial mounds were discovered that were built nearly 2,000 years ago.

 In 1618, French explorer, Etienne Brule, was the first European known to enter the UP.

early 1800's

  1820 The Cass Expedition passed through this area. This expedition was proposed by Lewis Cass, the first territorial Governor of Michigan It was to explore the mining potential of the U.P. Lead by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, ("a gentleman of science and observation, and particularly, skilled in mineralogy") they camped on the sandbar at the mouth of the Portage River then traveled north up the river.

  1837 Michigan gained Statehood.



1842 "The cession of this territory which includes the Copper Region was satisfied in 1842, thus passing from the Chippewa Indians, its original holders, to the government of the United States."

1844 The first copper source found by non-Indians. The ore body was found at the Cliff Mine site in Keweenaw County. This was the start of this nation's first mining boom. The conglomerate load at Calumet produced over 4,000,000,000 pounds of copper and paid over $160,000,000 in dividends. It is estimated there are more than 10,000 miles of underground tunnels in an area of 40 by 75 miles in the Copper Country. Fort Wilkins was built in 1844 to maintain order during the copper boom.

1847 Ransom Shelden, the first known white person to settle in the Portage Entry area, built a store on the sandbars projecting from the Jacobsville side of the waterway, it was later occupied by Earl Edgerton who supplied wood to steamers from there. The first steamer to sail Lake Superior, the propeller driven "Independence", stopped at the store in the spring of 1847. In the early 1850's, Mr. Shelden moved to Houghton.

1840's Bishop Baraga snowshoed from L'Anse along the Portage River, and going as far north as Copper Harbor.

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1851 The area's first Post Office was erected on the Portage Entry sandbars; a Pony Express type of mail route ran along the west side of the canal.

1855 The site of the village of Chassell was acquired from the State of Michigan by the St. Mary's Canal and Land Company.

The first area white settlers were mostly French, the Scandinavians came next, then the Finnish, according to early area resident writer Francis Jacker.

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1860 The "logging era" started in Northern Michigan and lasted until 1900 with the peak of logging in 1888.

1860 Sandbars at the mouth of the Entry were blocking navigation to the growing mining industry. In response, the "Portage Lake Improvement Company" was formed by Ransom Shelden and his brother-in-law, Chris Douglas, along with other investors. They dredged to 10 feet deep between Jacobsville and the village of Portage Entry. Until then, passengers and freight had to be unloaded onto the sandbars by Lake Superior vessels and shipped north on scows. The first ship to sail through the new canal to Houghton and Hancock was the steamer "Illinois", carrying 140 tons of cargo.

1861 High quality sand stone was found by George Craig (1819-1892).  Craig, a stone cutter, had explored the south shore of Lake Superior in an effort to find quality stone; he eventually located sandstone of desirable quality at a location about one mile east of Portage Entry, a place he named "Craig". He was an emigrant from near Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England where his father owned one of the free-stone quarries in that district. Craig became a small community of houses that supported the small quarry located on the curve about 1/2 mile South of Jacobsville cemetery.  They hauled the sandstone by rail (narrow track) to a dock on the slough and barged it out to a larger barge (shallow water).  The old raised rail bed is still there but only impressions of about 5 of the foundations of the buildings in the Craig community can still be found. Craig had the first Post Office in the area (1884-1896) The Craig quarry was relatively short-lived due to the opening of the Jacobsville quarries and the difficult location for shipping. George and Mary Thorpe Craig later lived with their children at the stone lighthouse in Jacobsville from 1876 to 1886, while awaiting financing arrangements for the quarry. This stone lighthouse still stands. The community of Craig slowly faded away to the successful Jacobsville quarries. Only the impressions of the houses foundations still exist today on private property. The Community of Jacobsville is located 1 1/4 miles South-East of Craig on the Keweenaw Bay, one mile East of Portage Entry. The name "Jacobsville" was after J.H. Jacobs, of Furst, Jacobs & Co. of Chicago, who financed the quarry to open in 1883. See more details below.)

1861 On April 12th, the Civil War began at Fort Sumter.

1862 The Homestead Act was passed in Congress.

1863 One of Chassell's first buildings was built; it was a log cabin built close to the mouth of the Sturgeon River by Francis Jacker. Jacker (1840-1923) a German, from Eilwangen, Wurtemburg, was the son of a college professor. He married an Indian maiden named Ikwesens (Little Girl) from the Sturgeon River area. They married in 1863 and raised six children, living about 2 miles from Portage Entry for 40 some years, on the east shore of the river near where his wife (later baptized Catherine) was raised. Mr. Jacker came here in 1859 to find his brother, Frederic, an Indian missionary. Among other trades, including writing many articles about this area for news publications, Mr. Jacker was a globemaker which he gave to area schools. One of these world globes is located in the L'Anse Information Building on US 41 in L'Anse; it is about 3 feet across, another was last known to be in Marquette at the Peter White Library but has been lost since the mid 1990's.  A picture of the Globe can been seen in the Chassell Heritage Center.

1867 The site of the village of Chassell was purchased by Mr. John Chassell, from New York, for farmland from the St. Mary's Canal and Land Company. He established his farm on the shore of Pike Bay by the Narrows, and lived there until he sold it and the rest of his land to Orrin W. Robinson of the Sturgeon River Lumber Company for a saw mill and town site in 1881. John Chassell (1814-1883) was the son of Lucinda Elkins Chassell (1790-1820) and the Rev. Dr. David Chassell (1787-1870), who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and was the principal of several Academy's in NY as well as a dairy farmer, a cheese maker and a Presbyterian preacher.

  At first, Chassell was known as Pike Bay, a whistlestop on the railroad. Later the name was to be Robinson; but since there was a Robinson in Lower Michigan, it was decided to be called Chassell, in recognition of John Chassell, the area's first settler. John Chassell was the first cashier of the first bank established in Houghton (now Houghton National Bank).

1868 Frederic Baraga, the first UP Catholic Diocese Bishop died.

1869 The Jacobsville lighthouse was built east of the Entry from local sandstone. It was sixty-eight feet high, with a winding iron stairway from the hall of the attached dwelling house, which led to the tower. The light was called a fifth order stationary light, varied by red and white flashes. It was designed as a 15 mile light. The light house structure is currently privately owned.

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late 1800's


1873 Dredging of the North end of the Portage Canal by Lily Pond was finished and the Portage Lake and Lake Superior Shipping Canal was completed; boats could now pass through the Keweenaw Peninsula.

1875 The Sturgeon River Boom Company was organized, and a canal was dug from the Sturgeon River to Chassell Bay, where logs were sorted and stored for the sawmill. The Sturgeon River Valley contained tremendous stands of pine timber; many of the pines were five and six feet in diameter.

1875 A bill was passed that granted a few thousand acres of lowlands in Baraga and Houghton Counties for railroad construction. The railroad had already came as far as L'Anse and supplies were sent to Houghton by either boat or stage from there.

1876 George Craig was appointed light house keeper at South Entry, a position he held for 10 years; George and Mary Thorpe Craig moved to Chassell in 1886.

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1880 The first Portage Entry school was built. It was a log building just North of the Messner farm.

1881 The site of the village of Chassell was purchased from John Chassell by Orrin W. Robinson, owner/superintendent of the Sturgeon

River Lumber Company for a sawmill and town site. Mr. Robinson was a pioneer Prohibitionist and he was responsible for the closing of saloons on Sunday and Election days in the early days of Hancock. When the company sold lots within the village limits of Chassell, they included a lease in perpetuity clause stating that if any intoxicating liquor was sold on the premises the title automatically reverted back to the Company. When the property was acquired by the Worcester Lumber Company in 1902, the same proviso was accepted; consequently there has never been a licensed saloon within the village limits of Chassell. Mr. Robinson had built a sawmill in Hancock, at the site of Portage View Hospital, but by 1887, his business had increased to the point that he moved everything to Chassell for expansion. Mr. Robinson moved his family into the John Chassell farmhouse, and lived there until he built a new home on the same grounds using the old home for storage. Robinson later entered politics: he was elected on the Republican ticket once as State Representative, twice as State Senator and served two terms as Michigan's Lieutenant Governor under Governor Pingree.

1883 In July, the new Rail Road was ready for use between L'Anse and Houghton, making the first Houghton County rail connection to Chicago and beyond.

1883 The Jacobsville sandstone quarries were opened by John Henry Jacobs and Mr. Wolfe. The Furst, Jacobs, and Co. employed 80 to 90 men; work was only done in the summer to avoid freeze cracks. The Jacobsville and Arnheim sandstone quarries operated until 1914, with Jacobsville having a population of 750 at the turn of the century. During the lifetime of the red stone industry at Jacobsville, about ten million cubic feet of block stone was shipped, which is about 800 thousand tons, with a market value of about eight million dollars at the time. In addition, thousands of tons of rubble stone were used in building projects locally. During peak years of quarrying, between 500,000 and 700,000 cubic feet of stone were shipped out each year to places like Chicago, Boston, New York City and even London. The quarries were the third largest industry in the area after mining and lumbering. Many buildings in the Copper Country were built with Jacobsville sandstone as well as such notable buildings as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York and the Carnegie Office Building in Pittsburgh, the YMCA and old Union Depot in Detroit plus many others were constructed of Portage Entry sandstone.

1884-1896 The Craig Post Office was operating at the Craig location near Jacobsville.

1887-1947 The Jacobsville Post Office was operating in Jacobsville.

1887 Torch Lake Township constructed a wagon road, connecting the Entry quarries with Lake Linden; until then, the only way to the Entry was by boat.

1887 The first stopping point for trains passing through Chassell was located in a box car and included a water tank. It was located on the creek east of the Hamar property. There was a small pump house on the creek and the pump was operated with steam from locomotives that needed the water. The Depot was built in 1890.

1887 The "Chassell House" was built so that the men working at the new sawmill would have housing, the boarding house was razed in the early 1930's.

1887 A new Portage Entry school was built on land donated by Columbus Edgerton; it was converted to a residence in 1936 and still stands as a home on Portage Entry Road at Fire number __


April 14, 1888 Chassell became a chartered Township!

1888 The Sturgeon River Lumber Company started building its Chassell mill; many of the pine trees cut from the Chassell area for the mill were five or six feet in diameter!

1888 School was first taught in Chassell, the teacher was Mrs. Albert Noble who taught school upstairs in their home. This is the second home south of the Chassell Food Mart now called The Hearth, on US 41.

1888 The Chassell Post Office opened in the rear of the Wilkinson & Mclaughlin Store (NW corner 5th Street and US41). After a number of years, the Post Office was moved into the building just North of what is now the Chassell Food Mart. Later it was moved into the Bilto Store. The current Post Office on US41 was then built in 1962.

1888 The first school at Sandstone, east of Jacobsville, was sold and in September, the second school was built by Nels Ruonavaara. a Finnish land owner and town developer there.

1888  A road was constructed from the Entry quarries to Indian Bay.

1889 The village of Chassell's first school building was built, the four room building was located just West of the Congregational Church on Second Street. The first day the school opened, it was overcrowded! The teacher was Robert Reese who later became General Robert Reese and assistant to the first vice-president of the American Telegraph and Telephone Company. This little one-room building was also used for religious meetings by both Protestants and Catholics.

18-- The first Doctors of Chassell were Dr. Finch and Dr. Smith, who worked for the Sturgeon River Lumber Co.

1889 On April 8th, the Board of School Inspectors met at the Sturgeon River Co. offices and divided Chassell Township into the following school districts: Chassell #1, Paradise #2, Sturgeon River #3, and Portage Entry #4. (This entry is on the earliest written Chassell Township Board meeting minutes record still in existence!)

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1890 The railroad Depot was constructed on a site directly behind what is now the Community Building. At one time the Chassell Depot had as many as four persons working there and eight passenger trains daily, along with numerous daily freight trains. The Railway Post Office car service was discontinued on the "Copper Country Limited" in 1967, six months before the train itself was discontinued. After the last passenger train service ended in March 1968, the depot was dismantled.

1890's The Corey Shingle Mill operated on the shore of Pike Bay.

1890 French-Canadian Catholic Chassell residents built St. Anne's Parish at its present location on US41 with 2 lots and pine lumber being furnished by the Sturgeon River Lumber Co. In the late 1880's "most of the people working in the sawmills or farming were Catholic." From 1891 to 1894, the rectory was built. By 1930, they were no longer using French in the service and by the mid 1960's community participation in the Mass switched from Latin to English.

early 1890's The Paradise School was built and still stands at the SW corner of the Paradise and Massie Roads at Fire number __ . French Canadians had set up a large farm district a mile West of Chassell on the Paradise Road, named after one of these early settlers. These farmers grew hay, potatoes, vegetables, and also had a few dairy cows for their own use. The school closed for a week in the fall so children could help dig the potatoes. The potatoes were sold locally as well as shipped to places like Chicago.

early 1890's The Sturgeon River School was built on the West bank of the Sturgeon River just south of the county road bridge site; it was remodeled in 1916 and closed in 1929; it no longer stands, only an artesian well still remains near Fire number __ . This area was predominantly a Finnish settlement.

1893 The Congregational Church was constructed on US41 at Second Street with lumber being furnished by the Sturgeon River Lumber Co. The basement was built using sandstone from Jacobsville.

1895 The houses on the island at South Portage Entry were moved on the winter ice to the West side of the waterway.  (This island had been created when the canal was dredged.)  These Finnish fishing families formed a community known as Portage Entry.   The area is located off US 41, East on Portage Entry Road to "Fisherman's Lane".

1895 A second school building was added to the Chassell school on Second Street. These two buildings were destroyed by fire in January 1916.

1896: Henry Ford test drove his first automobile, the Quadricycle, in Detroit. It was a two-cylinder engine mounted on four bicycle wheels that had a top speed of 40 km/h (25 mph).

1895- 1910 approx. There was a wooden float factory at Portage Entry, the men hand turned the crank on the lathe producing wooden floats for fishermen.

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early 1900's


1902 By the turn of the century, the pine had been cut so the timber lands remaining were mostly hardwoods and hemlock. The sawmill, town site, Boom Company, houses and timber land holdings of the Sturgeon River Lumber Company were sold to C.H. Worcester of Chicago for $65,000.

1903 - 1928 The Worcester Lumber Company operated in Chassell, from April 13, 1903 to October 25, 1928 with Mr. Edward Hamar as General Manager. It became one of the largest sawmills on the Great Lakes, at times averaging six RR freight cars either arriving or departing the Chassell Depot daily! This company logged all the hemlock and hardwoods. As the cutover land from the lumber company became available, it was turned into farm land. The Finns would continue to work in the lumber camps during the winter months, and cleared and worked their farm land in the summer.

early 1900's The Peltier School was built on the SE corner of Fish's Road and Upper Worham Road near Fire number __. The Upper Worham area was a settlement including both Finns and French. The school closed in 1930 (only a pump remains) and later moved to the Tapiola Road in the Otter River Swamp area for use as a home; it no longer stands.

1900's The Snake River School was in a building on the Koivupalo property near Fire number ... across from the Palosaari farm, in 1916 it was moved to a more central location at the NE corner of US41 and the Portage Entry Road. It closed in December, 1936 and now is located across US41 on the Luusua farm at Fire number ...

1903 The Wright Brothers first successful aeroplane flight!

1907-1919 The White City amusement park on the Jacobsville side of the channel was operating. Dances were held at White City on Saturday nights, with people coming from Houghton on boats called "Plow Boy", the "R.B. Hayes", the "Sailor Boy" and the "Annie R. Hennes". The White City recreation areas was extremely popular throughout the midwest and east. It closed during WWI and re-opened for awhile after that.

1908 The Worcester Lumber Company installed a small electric generator at the mill and provided power for townspeople.

1909 - 1928 The Worcester Lumber Company constructed and operated a logging railroad in Chassell Township. The railroad was officially known as the HC&SW (Houghton Chassell & Southwestern RR), the equipment was lettered WLC (Worcester Lumber Co.) The train also accepted passengers.

1900's A barrel stave mill operated in Klingville until it burned down in the early 1920's.



1910 The Lower Pike River School was built on the Pike River Road near the Upper/Lower Pike Road intersection. The Pike River Valley was developed into farmland by the Finnish settlers. The school closed around 1930 and is still standing near Fire number P41 on the Metsa farm.

1910-1911 Chassell's first basketball team was organized.

1911 Finnish-speaking Evangelical Lutherans started a congregation and built a church in 1912 on Hancock Street. Four years later the building was enlarged; a basement was added, to accommodate the Temperance Society's activities. The Church and the Society cooperated closely to serve the constituency. In January 1967 this church was ruined by fire, it still stands at ... Hancock Street. A new church was built in 1970 on US41 north of town at Fire number ... which became the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. The former parsonage was built in 1930 and occupied by the pastor and his family until 1974 when the new parsonage was completed next to the new church on US41. Although English was adopted in the parish activities in the 1930-1950 decades, they still hold a special monthly Finnish speaking service.

1912 Chassell High School was built on Second Street and housed the 7th and 8th grades with several students in the 9th and 10th grades. There was an annual graduation for 8th grade only with the first class of 1912 graduating two girls, Violet Madden and Denise LeMire (most boys went to work after the 8th grade). Children from the country schools who wanted to graduate from the 8th grade had to come to the Chassell School for their last month in order to graduate. Students wanting schooling past the 8th grade went on to Houghton or Hancock.

1912 The Chassell Boys Band was formed with their first concert in March 1913.

1912-1920's Lakeside Floral Company had large greenhouses on the

site of today's Holy Trinity Lutheran Church North of town.

1913 The Chassell State Bank was built, Marcell Nadeau was the first teller. Bank operations stopped with the great depression; currently the Haapala Insurance Agency is in this building. The home next to the bank was built for the Nadeau's in 1912.

1913 The Pike Valley Fire came within several hundred yards of the southwest part of town.

1914-1915 Chassell had its first organized hockey team. Games were played in an indoor ice rink built by William and Ed Holappa on the vacant lot west of the Chassell Motor Co. building on 3rd Street.

1915 The Knights of Pythias Hall was built on US41, it was known as the "K P Hall". For awhile, black and white silent movies with piano accompaniment by Mrs. Walter Beaulieu were shown here twice weekly; it later was taken over by the Chassell Schools in the 1930's and then was the Chassell Community Center until __ when it was sold as private property.

1915 - mid 1920's The Midget Flour and Feed Mill was operated south of town, (at the site of the current Jarvi Lumber) a three story structure that ground animal feed for area farmers and also manufactured Arbutus Flour. Archie Carboneau was owner/manager of the mill.

1916 In January, the early school building on Second Street in Chassell was destroyed by fire.

1917 U.S. enters WWI.

1917 Southwell Elementary School for grades 1 to 6 was built next to the High School on Second Street. It was named after Mr. and Mrs. Southwell, parents of Mrs. C.H. Worcester, who donated the land.

1917 The "New" Upper Pike River School was built on the Pike River Road on land donated by the Kaarakkainen family. It closed in 1929; it still stands as a home (Perfetti's) by the Wisti farm road corner, Fire Number P58.

19?? The Klingville School met in the home of Victor Boucht, the school building was built in the mid 1920's close to the four way corner in Lower Klingville. This area was predominantly a Finnish settlement. The school closed in 1936. The building was moved to the Creamery Road in 1942 and converted into a tavern but burned down in 1947. It was on the site of today's Greenlight Bar and Restaurant.

1919-1920 Chassell High School had a football team which played on a field North of the Community Center. (They played with uniforms borrowed from Houghton High School.)

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1920 The Chassell Apostolic Lutheran Church was built on Main Street.

1920 The American Legion - Sauvola Post #265 organized with Frank Misslitz as first Commander. It was named in honor of Charles and Ernest Sauvola who died in action on the same day in July 1918 in France. A memorial, with the names of those who gave their lives for their country inscribed on a monument, is in the Chassell Cemetery.

1921 The Chassell High School curriculum was extended to 12th grade in 1920; the first senior high school class to graduate from the Chassell Schools was in 1921.

1922 American Legion Auxiliary - Sauvola Post #265 was chartered with Ida Funk elected the first president with previous organizational help from Anna B. Warner.

1920's Telephone Service was available in areas of Chassell Township.

1920's - 1934 The Fertiluvia Corporation of America operated in Klingville, bagging fertilizer made from dried swamp peat moss; producing almost 50 railroad cars annually.

1926 The Warner Garage was built on US41 at Third Street.

1927 The Consumers Co-op Market of Chassell was established. The first managers were Charles and Elizabeth Nurmi. In 1976, they moved into their new building on U541 at 5th Street. The Co-op operated there until it closed in ----.

1928 - 1950's Standard Oil Company installed bulk fuel tanks and operated a Standard Oil distributorship at the burned out Flour Mill site south of town near Fire number ...

October 1928 The largest single shipment of lumber ever from Chassell was taken by the steamer Elmira to North Tonawanda, NY. It contained 763,864 feet of pine, spruce and hemlock lumber, the last softwood cut from the mill, the Elmira was also towing the Grampian with another 300,000 feet of lumber (a normal boat load from Chassell contained about 400,000 feet of hardwood lumber).

1920's US 41 (known as M 15 prior to the creation of the US number route system) was first paved through Chassell and North bound toward Houghton. US41 now starts in Copper Harbor and goes south 1,990 miles, through eight states, ending in Miami, Florida.

late 1920's - 1961 The town water system was developed and operated by the Hamar-Carboneau families.

late 1920's Fire in the Otter River Swamp in the western part of the Township.

late 1920's Chassell Township had eight schools; most of the rural schools were closing in the late 1920's as school busing started; in the mid 1930's the remaining rural schools were closed. Winter buses were covered horse-drawn sleighs pulled on roads which had been panked (rolled, rather than plowed).

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1930-1935 The "Clover Farm Store" was operated in Portage Entry by Elmer Mattson it was later sold to William Lepisto and later to Sakari Hiltunen.

1930's to 1960's The Dormer Fish Company operated at the south end of Portage Entry. Whitefish, herring, lake trout and chubs were shipped by rail to city markets in Wisconsin and Illinois, barrels of salt herring were shipped to southern states and military bases. There were about 15 fishing tugs operating at the time.

1933 CCC begins tree planting program (1933-1942). Michigan lead the nation in planting; 485 million trees.

1934 US 41 was paved southbound from Chassell towards Snake River Hill and the Baraga County Line.

1935 The Northern Cooperatives, Inc. was organized. Located next to the Strawberry Growers' Building, the bulk plant and loading dock on Portage Lake for the Northern Co-op's was in Chassell. (In 1975 they moved into their new building on Snake River Hill, South of Chassell at Fire number __)

about 1935 The government "Long Dock" was constructed at the north end of Portage Entry, near where the old Edgerton's grain warehouse and dock had been.

1935 The Portage Canal at South Entry was dredged to 25' deep and 300' wide.   Houses along the Entry were jacked up and land filled in from the dredging of the canal.

1936 The Copper Country Strawberry Growers, Inc. was formally organized; they handled about 5,000 cases in the first year and had more than doubled that in just two years.

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1941 to 1957 The Chassell Lumber Company built and operated a small sawmill east of Chassell on US 41, managed by Swande Godell.

1941 U.S. enters WWII following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

1944 The timber sale program began on state lands.

1946 VFW Post #6507 organized and the VFW Auxiliary Post #6507 organized. They purchased the Snake River Hall on US 41 South of Chassell and began using it in 1950. The first Commander was Russell Bezotte. The VFW is a patriotic, working service organization, providing veteran's services for funerals, Memorial Day services and other projects.

1946 June 6th, the Chassell Lions Club was chartered with first King Lion, Swande Godell. "The main emphasis of the Chassell Lions is its service to the Chassell Community." They have been instrumental in many very important projects in Chassell and sponsor the annual Chassell Strawberry Festival, the 2nd weekend in July.

1947 Chassell Volunteer Fire Department formed and a fire truck was purchased with donations from towns people, a project organized by the Lion's Club.

1948 A Fire Hall was built on property donated by Harry Funk and fundraising was coordinated by the Lion's Club; this building is presently the Chassell Civic Center.

1948 The first telephone service was installed in Chassell.

1948-1960 Chassell Box Company operated, producing wooden boxes and crates, managed by the Hamar family.

1949 Michigan Bell began dial telephone service in the Chassell area. They built the telephone building still standing on the north end of Willson Memorial Dr and installed step-by-step (Strowger type) switching made by Western Electric and by the Automatic Electric Company. Prior to the 1949 dial cutover, telephone service in Chassell was provided by the manual telephone system in Houghton. The major problem with this arrangement was that there was a lack of circuits between Houghton and Chassell - resulting in a large number of multi-party lines in Chassell proper. By establishing the Chassell switching system, Michigan Bell was able to not only bring improved service to Chassell residents but also to greatly reduce (and in some cases completely eliminate) the use of multi-party lines. The new Chassell dial telephone numbers of 1949 were only four digits long - using the 4xxx and 5xxx number groups. In 1961, the prefix "523" was added and all telephone numbers in Chassell were changed. (info supplied by Brian R Juntikka)

1949 The First Annual Chassell Strawberry Festival was held.  It was sponsored by the Lion's Club; Governor G. Mennen Williams attended to crown queen Lucille Tormala.

mid 1900's  

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1952 The Chassell Extension Study Club was organized and met for over 40 years?

1954 Chassell's Main Street name was changed from Calumet Avenue to Willson Memorial Drive, honoring Dr. Percy H. Willson who had been the physician in Chassell for over 50 years until his death in 1952. He was a fine Doctor and outstanding citizen of Chassell all those years.

Dr. Percy Willson
Dr Percy Willson.jpg (80971 bytes)

Doc Willson was an avid hockey player when he moved here. He had played on the 1896 Detroit Medical College Hockey Team and then played with the first Portage Lake team organized by Houghton Dentist, J. Gibson.  The Portage Lake hockey team turned pro from 1904-1907. This Portage Lake team organized the very first Professional Hockey Intercity League in the World, called the International Hockey League, IHL, made up of teams from Portage Lake, Calumet, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and Pittsburg. Percy was one of this leagues most relied on referees. 

Detroit Medical College
1896 Hockey Team

Percy H. Willson, standing, top right

1956, 1957, 1958 The Chassell Panthers basketball team won the District, Regional and Michigan State Class D Championship three years in a row! The team had 65 consecutive wins in basketball in 1956, 1957, and 1958 which is a Michigan State Record in High School Basketball...which still stands today, over 40 years later! Members of this winning team included: Don Mattson (who still ranks in the top 10 of all-time Upper Peninsula prep scorers with a total of 1,706 points), Terry Pokela, Tom Peters, Al Tormala, Ken Tormala, Ken Tormala, Don Jaakkola, Gary Jaakola, Bob Belhumer, Paul Mäkelä, Don Michealson,  __ Komula, .... (need these names)  They were coached by Ed Helakoski. "Big Ed", "regarded by some as the greatest basketball coach in Copper Country history" was at Chassell from 1950-1960. Ed was inducted into the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame in 1974. The Chassell High School gymnasium was dedicated to coach Ed Helakoski on July 13, 2002. 
During the gymnasium dedication on 7/13/02, a binder was placed in the Chassell Heritage Museum with newspaper clips of all of the 65 games won in l956-57-58.  Here is a story of game #43 at the Houghton gym as recollected by team member Paul Mäkelä and sent to the webmaster here via email:  “…We almost lost that game and I was a part of the last few seconds of play that place Bob Belhumer on the free throw line with Chassell 2 points behind, Belhumer with a one and one free throw and NO TIME ON THE CLOCK.  Two people on the court....Belhumber and the Ref. I don't think the clip states it but.........  There was just about one minute (or maybe a bit more/less) left in the game. The score was tie.  I knew time was running I took a jump shot from the free-throw line....left side.  Guess what......I missed!   Don Michealson dribbled (very carefully) from the defensive end of the court to the Doelle end and took a shot from the free-throw line....right side....and scored.  I was in front of Don guarding him....but....didn't want to touch or foul I was being "Super" careful.  When Don scored, that put Doelle two points ahead.   All I could think of was get that ball in play and to the other end of the court.   I stepped out of bounds....threw the ball to Bob Belhumer at center court to my right...  Bob turned around to go for the basket (or to set up a play) and one of the Doelle players ran into him. is Bob and the Doelle player on the floor....the Ref is blowing his whistle and the Horn is blowing (end of the game).   The Ref called a "charging" foul on the Doelle player and that put Bob Belhumer in the free-throw line with the "one and one" free throw.  (ie.  you make the first get the second one).  The first free throw bounced around the rim a bit and went in....but, the second free-throw went in "CLEAN"!  NOW THE GAME IS TIE AGAIN and IT'S OVERTIME!  Well, Chassell had no problem in the overtime and we won the game.  I fouled out of the game, in the overtime play, and couldn't sleep that night when I came home.  Like Paul Harvey know the you know the rest of the story!  Later,   Paul Mäkelä....class of l958....played guard position.....numbers #13 in the gray uniform and #2 in the blue uniform…”

1956 Disabled American Veterans, Dr. Percy Willson Chapter 115 organized.

1956 The "Chippewa Court" cabins were constructed on Willson Memorial Drive by ___

1956 Sigma Rho fraternity came to Chassell, moving into the old Worcester House which later burned down and a new one was built. The Alpha chapter of the Sigma Rho Fraternity was founded in 1892 at the Michigan College of Mines (now Michigan Tech); it was the first established fraternity at Michigan Tech as well as the first professional Mining Engineering fraternity in the Nation.

mid 1950's Chassell Home Study Club organized and met for over 40 years?.

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1960 The Pow-Wow Restaurant was built by Fred and Lydia Korpi; it's name was changed to the Chippewa. This beloved restaurant burned down Thanksgiving 199-. need date here.

1961 Chassell Kindergarten building (and HS band room) was built entirely by donations of cash and labor by town's people next to the Elementary School on 2nd Street or on US41?.

1961 The telephone prefix "523" was added and all telephone numbers in Chassell were changed.

1962 The current brick US Post Office was built on Willson Memorial Drive.

1966 The Georgian Bay Line's 321 foot pleasure cruise ship "South American" discontinued its weekly scheduled visits to the Copper Country.

1968 In March was the last daily passenger train service to the Copper Country by the Milwaukee Road's "Copper Country Ltd." (freight services continued.)

1968 On August 22, 1968 the Calumet copper miners went on strike against the Calumet Division of Universal Oil Products.

1969 Neil Armstrong walks on the moon!

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late 1900's


1970 The very successful Chassell Women's Softball Team formed. The team has either captured first place in their league, or tied for first, nearly every year since! By the end of 1987, they had a record of 205-18. Over the years they have been sponsored by Chassell IGA, Butch's Standard, Chassell Standard, the Einerlei, Chassell Union 76 and now Chassell Citgo.

1970 - 1977 Salo Lumber Company operated a lumberyard south of town.

early 1970's Chassell Township sanitary sewer system was developed.

1971 The Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary, Dr. Percy H. Willson Unit #115 organized. The chapter was named after Chassell's longtime prominent physician who had his office in what later became the old Coop Store, razed in 1982.

1974 In June, the three fire trucks were moved inside the newly built Fire Hall on 7th Street.

1974 The "Chassell Senior Citizens" organized to "Provide recreation, fellowship, counseling, and cooperative involvement with senior citizens of the area."

1975 Community Action began bringing a weekly meal to the Chassell Civic Center for all senior citizens to enjoy.

1970's The original Robinson Beach Park site was exchanged with the Hamar Family for the much larger park site behind the Community Center.

1970's The Chassell Classic 8 KM cross country ski trail was made.

1975 The Einerlei was opened by Bill and Nancy Leonard in the building previously occupied by Hasler's and before that, by Bealieau dairy bar and barber shop.

1976 The Chassell Township Zoning Ordinance was enacted Sept 13,1976.

1977 Anderson and Jarvi Lumber Company was incorporated and purchased the former Salo Lumber Co. South of town.

1978 Chassell Jaycees organized.

1978-79 Winter of record snowfall of 355.9 inches in Houghton Co.

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1980 The first annual "Old Fashion Christmas" in Chassell was held, it continues the 2nd weekend in December.

1981 A GMC Diesel Fire Truck for Chassell was ordered for $95,508.

1982 The Soo Line discontinued freight train service North of Baraga, the last train rolled through Chassell late in September.

1982 Chassell Jaycettes organized.

1980's The Chassell Dept. of Public Works building was built behind the Fire Hall.

1983 The Keweenaw Berry Farm was built and opened by the Theut family South of Chassell on US41 at Fire Number __

1984 The Chassell Improvement Association was formed to help with the "Old Fashion Christmas" in Chassell and other community projects.

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present day:


1990 The Chassell Senior Citizen Housing was built at 7th and S. Hamar.

August 31, 1992 First day of school in the new Chassell Township K-12 School built on US 41 South of town.

July 9, 1993 Opening day for the new Chassell Heritage Center.

Chassell Historical Organization opened the Center for the first time in the old grade school during the annual 1993 Strawberry Festival.

July 13, 2002  The Chassell High School gymnasium was dedicated to Coach Ed Helakoski, who in the mid 1950's, led the Chassell High School basketball team to 3 State Championships!

Credits and updates:

This history was first compiled for the opening day of the new Chassell Heritage Center during the annual Strawberry festival on July 9, 1993. The dates and history cited here were compiled from information found in the MTU archives, from conversations with Chassell residents and most of all a great deal of thanks goes to the authors of the various Chassell history stories including writings by Francis Jacker in the late 1800's, "The History of Chassell" by Kenneth Hamar, July 1976, the "History of Chassell" by Nicki Lassila, 19-- and the pictorial survey of Chassell Township by James L. Alain, 19-- and all the people who helped them compile their wonderful stories about the history of Chassell. Help with the Portage Entry history (which is still incomplete) was from Donald Nelson. When possible, exact wordings of previous Chassell historians were used in this document.

It is now time for us all to become Chassell Historians and help add more information to this living history of Chassell. There were a number of items which would have been included in the draft, but no dates have been found to place them in the correct time frame, so please let us know if you can help with other Chassell historical dates to make this history more complete and accurate.

If you see something that needs to be corrected above, please let us know that also! Since it is all entered on a computer file, it can easily be expanded and corrected. So PLEASE let us know of any corrections or additions including their specific dates by contacting Connie Julien or Email


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