Houghton County History
Houghton County named for Professor Douglass Houghton, a geologist in Michigan, was organized in 1845.

Commencing in the year 1849 all meetings of the Board of Supervisors were recorded as being held in Houghton County. From 1849 to 1853 the meetings were held in the office of the County Clerk in the Phoenix Copper Co. building at Phoenix Mine. Beginning in October, Eagle River was the County Seat but was not legally established as such until October 10, 1856. When the 1861 Legislature separated Keweenaw County from Houghton County and provided that Houghton County’s County Seat be established in Portage Township, the village of Houghton became the County Seat. The first Board Meeting held there was on May 25, 1861, in the office of Richard Edwards. Meetings were later held in a room in the Post Office which was also the place used for County Offices.

On July 21, 1862 a contract was let for the construction of a Courthouse, Jail and Sheriff’s quarters to be built on Block 28, Houghton, the site of the present Courthouse. This was used until 1887 when the present Courthouse was constructed at a cost of $75,568.00. The building contained the jail and Sheriff’s quarters, but by 1961 the building had deteriorated to the point where the jail was declared hazardous and was condemned. A new jail was constructed in 1963, adjacent to the Courthouse, at a cost of $200,000.00.

Further research shows that on March 9, 1843, a law of the Michigan Legislature was passed dividing the Upper Peninsula into six counties, Michimackinac, Chippewa, Schoolcraft, Ontonagon, Delta and Marquette. On March 19, 1845, this act was amended and Houghton County was established from parts of Marquette, Schoolcraft and Ontonagon Counties. On March 11, 1861, Keweenaw County was set off from Houghton County by an act of Legislature. The 128th Act of the session of the Legislature, 1861 gave townships 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54 and fractional townships 54 and 55 north of ranger 36 west and townships 47, 48 and 49 north of ranges 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37 west, to Houghton County as payment for the separation of Keweenaw County.

In the Legislature of 1863 an Act No. 239, was passed giving 1,280 acres of swamp land to Houghton & Keweenaw Counties as payment for completing each mile of the Mineral Range State Road from Point Keweenaw to the Village of Copper Harbor in Keweenaw County. The patent for such lands was issued to the Board of Supervisors of each county upon the satisfactory completion of ten miles of such road. By this Act, the Board of Supervisors of Houghton County obtained 29,541 acres of land located in the counties of Baraga, Dickinson, Houghton, Iron, Marquette, Keweenaw, Menominee and Gogebic.