The city that today that is known as West Branch, Michigan, and nicknamed “The City with a Smile” was originally named Logan’s Mills. It was originally founded in 1863. The Rifle River, which runs near the town, was a logging river during the lumber boom of the 19th and early 20th centuries in Michigan. Lumberjacks began referring to the area as the “west branch” of the Rifle River, leading to the change in the name, under which it was incorporated as an official city in 1875.
After the city’s first census in 1880, reporting 139 people, its size increased more than eight-fold over the next decade. Since then, it has seen inflows and outflows of population, now standing at 2,139 as of the 2010 census. Though it is a small town, it has a relatively dense population of 1,400 people per square mile. Its physical area of just under 1.5 square miles is entirely land, though significant bodies of water such as the Rifle River are nearby.
Traveling in and out of West Branch is fairly easy, with the small town having four major highways and one business loop. The north-south M-30, with its north end starting the city, can take you as far south as Midland. The state trunkline M-55 goes east and west for just over 150 miles, from Manistee to Tawas City. M-33 runs north and south for over 120 miles through the northeastern half of the Lower Peninsula.
West Branch shares a public school district with Rose City. There are two elementary schools, Rose City and Surline. Then there is Surline Middle School, and Ogemaw Heights High School. St. Joseph is a private elementary school affiliated with the Catholic Church, running from K-8. Additionally, many high school graduates from West Branch attend Kirtland Community College in nearby Roscommon.
Like many small towns in this area, West Branch is mainly made up of locally owned businesses in a wide variety of industries and services, similar to Premier Green Lawns in the lawn care field. One significantly large operation in the city is the West Branch Regional Medical Center. They have three main therapy programs – occupational, speech, and physical. Additionally, they have a highly touted state-of-the-art center for wound care. There are many therapies for patients who have wounds that are not healing, or chronic pain from a healed wound that are of the most recently introduced in medical technology.
The largest park within the city is Irons Park. Named after a storeowner and partial owner of the park, he sold his portion in 1955, and it has been fully owned by the city ever since. It covers 12 acres, and has two pavilions, a gazebo, basketball and tennis courts, bathrooms, and a picnic area. It hosts many of the town’s annual events in all seasons. There is a Victorian art fair, an Easter egg hunt, a mutt march sponsored by the Humane Society, Summer Music Series, and more. There is also a five mile trail for hiking and biking that runs through the park. For those looking for passive activity, there is also a pond for fishing and bird watching. The well-maintained natural atmosphere makes it attractive for birds to congregate here, enabling visitors to observe them in their normal activities. Premier Green Lawns aims to do the same with the yards on your own private property.
The month of October in West Branch also welcomes the annual Quilt Walk. It is held in the downtown area, with over 200 quilts sold, and the money is donated to the local Hospice of Helping Hands. During the walk there are also demonstrations, vendors, a quilt raffle, and a sewing room sale.
In the present day, just as in the past, one cannot discuss the city of West Branch without the Rifle River coming to mind. While the Rifle River was used by the residents primarily for logging back in the early days of its founding, for many decades now it is primarily a recreational and tourist attraction. Just outside the city is the Rifle River Recreational Area, which spreads a wide variety of fun over its vast 4,449 acres. Due to its shallow depths and bountiful scenery, the Rifle River is a preferred place for canoers. It is very popular among the Boy Scout troops in Michigan. There is also hiking, hunting during the respective seasons, fishing, biking, swimming, and cross-country skiing.
For a more urbanized activity, West Branch has a popular strip of outlet stores. It is located at Exit 212 off of I-75. This outlet strip has more than 25 stores, name brands with outstanding prices. If you are looking to buy something more handmade or specialized, being a tourist attraction, the city also has more than its share of boutiques and gift shops for your browsing and purchasing pleasure.
In the summer months, June through August, West Branch has a unique event in its downtown area every Friday. The collection of events is dubbed Fabulous Fridays, and has a different theme every week. There is Gone Country, where the downtown is decorated with a rural theme. There are car shows, talent shows, and culinary themes where nearby restaurants can give participants samples, or sell their dishes.
Being the county seat, West Branch hosts the annual county Winterfest. The snowmobiles and ATV races highlight the event, along with the delicious chili cooking contest, and for the daring a Polar Plunge.
Regardless of the size of your property, Premier Green Lawns looks forward to serving West Branch for many years to come. Beautiful lawns help make beautiful neighborhoods and towns which beauty is a true asset to any town that significantly profits from tourism. Our individually owned business will give that needed personal touch to your turf. Call us today for more information.