Alpena City

Alpena County, Michigan

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Alpena City Hall is located at 208 North First Avenue, Alpena, MI 49707.
Phone: 989‐354‐1720.

Beginnings [1]

In the spring of 1840, the Surveyor General gave contracts to survey the area originally named "Anamakee" after a Chippewa Chief who signed the Treaty of 1826 which was negotiated by Henry R. Schoolcraft. The word "Anamakee" means "Thunder" and corresponds to the French "Anse du Tonners" ("Bay of Thunder") which appears on a French map dated 1688. In September 1844, the government lands in Alpena were offered by sale by the United States. Commercial fishing attracted the first European/American settlers to the area in the mid-1830. Lumbering was responsible for the early growth and development of the city. The Thunder Bay River was the basic transportation from logging sites to sawmills located in the city and its port on Lake Huron. Because the harbor is protected by Thunder Bay it became a commercial fishing center.

In October of 1856, after selecting the mouth of the Thunder Bay River, the City founders named their community Fremont as it was the year of the Fremont presidential campaign. They brought with them a Fremont flag to honor the occasion. Late in 1857, a petition was sent to Washington asking for a post office at Fremont. On the 15th of January the papers arrived establishing a post office. Soon after the operation of the Post Office had commenced, it was found there was another Fremont in the state and that letters went astray. By act of Legislature, February 1859 Fremont was changed to Alpena. Alpena was incorporated as a city in 1871. The population at the time was approximately 3,500.

With the Thunder Bay River, Lake Huron, and the coming of the Detroit and Mackinac Railroad in 1887, Alpena became a hub of transportation. Logging and milling activities flourished. In the early 1900's, companies related to paper production and limestone were formed. The city was laying the foundation of the diversified industries it has today. In 1899, a process for turning limestone into cement was introduced. This innovation led to the formation of the Huron Portland Cement Company and the Besser Manufacturing Company—the largest companies in their field. The addition of the Fletcher Paper Company in 1886 and Abitibi Ltd. in 1955 solidified Alpena as an industrial town. As homes, businesses, schools, and recreation began to develop and thrive, Alpena became established as the "hub" of northeast Michigan.

  1. City of Alpena, Michigan, Comprehensive Plan, 2013,, accessed August, 2015.

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