About the Township
Au Train Township, centrally located in Alger County, in the Heart of the Hiawatha National Forest. It begins along the southern shores of Lake Superior, traveling east along State Highway M28, through Christmas and continuing along and south of State Highway M94. Au Train Township is one of the biggest municipal land mass areas in Upper Michigan, covering 158 square miles. It has a population of 1,019, with about 65% being year round residents. This estimate is based on the 2020 Census and Voter Registration files. We have several distinct areas within our Township: The Village of Au Train, The Village of Christmas, Dixon location, Forest Lake/M94, and the 16 Mile Lake Area.
Our current Board serves residents from the Township Hall/Offices located at N7569 Spruce Street, Au Train, MI 49806. Our Township Hall also services as the official voting precinct. We have an active Volunteer Fire Department with three halls located in Au Train, Christmas and the 16 Mile Lake area.
- February 27, 2024
- March 11, 2024
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Au Train History
Located on M-28 in Alger County, Au Train was the original county seat for Alger County.
Au Train, a French term meaning “at the shortcut or traverse” was one of the earliest sites visited by white man as they traveled along Lake Superior’s south shore. The river was part of an ancient Indian route between Lakes Superior and Michigan, the region itself known as the Land of Hiawatha.
One of Alger County’s oldest settlements, Au Train was first inhabited by white men in 1856 when William Cameron began hunting and trapping here.
Logging had began along the Au Train River in 1861. The Au Train River and its tributaries were filled with the big logs bound for mills in Lower Michigan, Rock River, Marquette, and later, to Munising. By 1873 the Sault Ste. Marie and Grand Island State Road Extension was completed to the Village.
The population of Au Train had a big increase in 1877 when a number of families moved from Bay Furnace near Munising when that iron-making community was destroyed by fire. They built small shingled cabins and in time, the town consisted of thirty homes, one blacksmith shop, a bay furnace, another sawmill and a government lighthouse.
The Detroit, Mackinac & Marquette Railroad reached the village in 1881. A school was built shortly thereafter, which also served as the social, political and religious center of the community. In 1883 a post office was established.
A high point in Au Train’s history came in 1885 when the northern part of Schoolcraft County was organized as Alger County, with Au Train becoming the county seat. The next year, a town site was platted and a shingle mill was built. A business district typical of a county seat and sawmill town soon developed. There were several stores, two hotels, saloons and the Au Train Alpha–the county’s first newspaper.
Commercial fishing became an important industry and the beautiful Au Train Lake and River attracted a growing number of tourists after advent of the railroad in 1881. After the turn-of-the-century, the Standard Tie Company began extensive logging operations in the area, but by 1919, the last logs were boomed on the Au Train River, ending a colorful era.
In 1902, the county seat was moved to Munising, which was rapidly becoming the county’s industrial and commercial center. During its history, Au Train was an important transit and stopover point for both Indians and white men, a sawmill town, county seat, commercial fishing port and resort center. Tourism and recreation now give the village its livelihood.