About This Place
Mancelona ( /mænˌsɪloʊnə/) is a village in Antrim County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 1,408 at the 2000 census. The village is located within Mancelona Township.
The town was founded in 1872 when the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad built a station at the location. The town sprang up quickly, and by 1900 a large charcoal furnace, iron works, and pickle factory (all of which have since closed and have been demolished) were operating within the community. The Iron works (the Antrim Iron Company) was founded in 1886 and for many years was the main employer in the town. During its heyday, the Iron Company possessed its own railroad, the Mancelona Northwest Railroad. The M&NW tracks went about 2 miles to the west of Mancelona from the Iron Works, and the main purpose of the railroad was to transport lumber to the iron works for harvesting. The Antrim Iron Works closed in 1945, and was demolished in the mid-1980s. Because of the ease of transportation along the railroad and US 131, the town became a minor industrial center. In April 1995, a gas leak in a building located in the downtown area caused an explosion, destroying three buildings and closing US 131 for days.
Mancelona is probably best known for its annual buck pole, an deer hunting contest that has drawn hunters from across the State. Additionally, Mancelona hosts the annual "Bass Festival", a four-day event featuring a Grand Parade, carnival, flea market, and other community activities. The Bass Festival is held the first weekend in June. In 1999, a new high school was opened, and renovations to the middle school were completed. Up until recently, the town had three factories that employed most of the town. The largest factory, a Dura Automotive Systems plant, closed in February 2009 and the community has had a change for the worse. Many of the once thriving shops are now abandoned, and the poverty rate has risen considerably. In August 2009, contaminated groundwater caused by the Dura plant made headlines as it now threatens the Cedar River.