Kingsford's early history was a quiet one. In 1920, the
population was a mere 40 residents, as there were no settled
communities, no stores or businesses.
Then came a man named Ford.
Henry Ford had been eyeing the reserves of iron and timber in the Upper
Peninsula since 1912. He contacted Edward G. Kingsford to express
interest in acquiring raw materials for his factories. Kingsford, the
husband of Ford's cousin, Minnie Flaherty, was a real estate agent and
owned a Ford dealership in the area.
The Ford Motor Company had plans to locate a sawmill and parts plant in
the Upper Peninsula to manufacture the wooden components for Ford
automobiles. E.G. Kingsford facilitated the purchase of 313,447 acres of
land for Ford and in 1920 construction began, employing more than 3,000
in the first year. On December 29, 1923, the charter for the newly
formed Village of Kingsford was approved. By 1925 employment supporting
the Ford Motor Company expansion to Dickinson County peaked at 7,500
Henry Ford's influence in Kingsford was vast and enduring. Ford sought
affordable, modern housing for his employees and constructed over 100
homes in what is now known as the Ford Addition. Many other landmarks
bear his name such as the Ford Airport, Ford dam, Ford Clubhouse, Ford
hospital, Ford park and Ford commissary.
Henry Ford's world class facility in Kingsford was the jewel of his
empire during that era. The production of the "Woody" station wagon
bodies and the conversion to glider production during World War II
highlighted Ford's accomplishments in Kingsford. To make use of the
waste wood generated by the sawmill, a chemical plant was constructed
and in operation by 1924. The chemical plant reclaimed, from every ton
of scrap wood, a variety of saleable byproducts. The 610 pounds of
charcoal reclaimed per ton was manufactured into briquettes and sold,
known as Ford Charcoal Briquettes.
The village flourished through the war years and on August 7, 1947, a
city charter was approved. Henry Ford II eventually closed the sawmill
and parts plant in 1951 and sold the chemical operation to a group of
local business interests that formed an enterprise known as the
Kingsford Chemical Company. The charcoal briquette plant continued and
renamed their product Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes, which has become a
household name. The plant continued operation in Kingsford until 1961,
and was then relocated to Louisville, Kentucky.
The City of Kingsford is now home to a number of diverse industries and
small businesses with a progressive climate for expansion and growth.
Our residents enjoy quality public safety and public works departments
and a school district built on community pride and cooperation. The
Kingsford High School logo has also embraced the Ford influence. Our
team name is the "FLIVVERS" which is a nickname for a Model T Ford from
the early 1900's. Recent success in the Michigan High School Athletic
Association football playoffs has made the "Flivvers" a well recognized
name in the State of Michigan.
As we enter the new millennium, Kingsford's future has never looked
(Write-up provided by Roger Scott-Treasurer of Kingsford)