KINGSFORD, Mich. (WJMN) — The Upper Peninsula village of Kingsford was formed in 1923, neighboring Iron Mountain and sitting along the Michigan-Wisconsin state line.

It was named after Edward G. Kingsford, the first plant manager for Ford Motor Co. in the area. He and the company guided the community’s formation.

Kingsford boasted “streets and gutters and water and sewer,” historian Roger Scott said. “They had the Ford Park, the Ford Hospital, the Ford Commerce area right down the street. And then they had an airport here, too.”

Scott has a wealth of knowledge on the town built by Ford.

“About 1920, Henry Ford was looking for a place to start a new saw mill and part plant and he had a relative named Edward G. Kingsford that was already operating in the Upper Peninsula, so they settled on putting the plant (in the area) and in that time it was just Iron Mountain,” Scott said. “By about 1922, they’re up in production and found out … there was 460,000 acres of hardwoods that they were going to make parts out of it. So that went well. They needed more and more power. They eventually built the Ford Dam just to provide hydroelectric power to run the plant. They branched out in using raw materials from the saw mill to make various products or organic products. And one principle thing was charcoal, which would just be super-heated wood. They used the technique of grinding the wood up and then compressing it into little pillows and use that as the fuel. They were making Ford Charcoal Briquettes.”

The Great Depression came and then World War II, which meant a glider contract for the area.

“(It) was pretty astounding at the number of gliders they kicked out of the Ford plant for use over in Normandy,” Scott said.

Changing times eventually led Ford to leave the area.

“In 1951, in December, there was very little use to no use for wood in automobiles. Even the station wagons had simulated wood on them,” Scott said. “So at that point, Kingsford closed the plant. Then a company formed, Kingsford Charcoal or Kingsford Chemical Company, (and) actually continued making the charcoal and some of the various by products. They stayed here until 1960, 61 and then they moved the plant down to Kentucky.”

The buildings that used to house Ford and Kingsford are now being used for other business enterprises.

A hundred years after the town was formed, Scott loves sharing history about it.

“Well, the part that I get a kick out of is when you ask somebody who is grilling out and I say, ‘You know why that is called Kingsford,’ they have no idea,” Scott said. “I volunteer at the museum in town and so I get to talk to these people from all over the country and say, ‘Well, if you want to know how Kingsford Charcoal got its name, it’s from right here. Starting with Ford plant.'”