Mastodon Township is located in Iron County, in the southwest portion of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We are the third largest Township in the County, consisting of 83,789.80 acres. Within the Township is the Village of Alpha with a total land area of just under one square mile. The total population of Mastodon Township including Alpha is 668 residents. Our economy is mainly based on small businesses, logging and year round tourism. We have numerous lakes, large wooded areas and an abundance of wildlife including deer, bear, wolves and water fowl. With 4 very distinct seasons, there are a number of activities available to attract tourism such as: fishing, swimming, camping, hunting, skiing and snowmobiling. As of January 2002, Mastodon Township had 520 voters in two precincts.
In 1885 the boundaries for Iron County and Mastodon Township were established. When searching the area for deposits of iron ore, some huge prehistoric animal bones were discovered and on this basis, Mastodon Township received it's name. By 1893, the Delphic Mine had shipped some 33,770 tons of ore and by 1894, the Mastodon Mine had shipped 425,708 tons of iron ore. Mining became the major source of income for the area and as jobs became more available, the population continued to grow. In 1914, the Village of Alpha became incorporated and was a thriving community until the last mine closed in 1958.
On October 10, 2005, the Mastodon Township Board unanimously voted in favor of selling the Porter School for $1.00 to Charles Hoogland, owner of Hoogland Wood Shop. He not only plans to relocate his business to the Porter School but also intends to restore the building to its original appearance. Hopefully as his business continues to grow, it will mean increased job opportunities for Mastodon Township. In the future, Mr. Hoogland plans to purchase the addition to the Porter School which includes the Township offices as well as the building that houses the Township Fire Department.
Porter School, now Circle Cafe
Alpha-Mastodon Fire Department:
The Fire Department has equipment located at both the Township Hall in Alpha and at Camp 5. We have 5 fire trucks including one just purchased in February of 2002. The fire department is staffed with approximately 20 volunteers and our Fire Chief is Jeff Seppala. Meetings of the fire department are held the first Monday of each month. In September, 2005, the Alpha-Mastodon Fire Department was awarded a grant from Homeland Security for $182,000.00 for the purchase of a new tanker truck which was delivered to the Township in Spring, 2006.
In October of each year, the fire department conducts a fire prevention program for students enrolled in grades 1 to 3 at the Forest Park School. Each student receives a plastic fireman's helmet and has the opportunity to inspect the fire truck. Also in October, the members of the fire department will clean out the chimney at the home of any Mastodon resident. This service has been provided for the last 10 years and has greatly reduced chimney fires
Fourth of July:
This 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 9:00 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.
Throughout the day there are a variety of activities for both children and communities to witness the fireworks display. Even though both the Township and the Village of Alpha contribute money for the purchase of the fireworks, it still requires additional donations from businesses and the general public to raise enough money for the purchase of fireworks. The Fire Department now days, handles the donations and events along with volunteers. This event is truly enjoyed by all who attend and each year it only becomes more spectacular.
There are two parks that the Township owns and maintains: Buck Lake and Stager Lake. Many of the Township residents as well as visitors from all over the country take advantage of these parks for a variety of outdoor activities including family picnics, swimming and fishing. Enjoying the outdoors in beautiful Upper Peninsula is an experience to remember.