In 1873, John Lane Buell exposed one of the richest deposits of iron ore in the world. His discovery, known as the Menominee Iron Range, led to the development of the area and the subsequent creation of Dickinson County in 1891. The last of Michigan's eighty-three counties to be organized, it was named for Donald M. Dickinson, a prominent Detroit attorney and the postmaster general in the first administration of President Grover Cleveland (1885-1889). Three of Michigan's largest iron mines were located in Iron Mountain, which had an abundant supply of water power and was served by two major railroads. Iron Mountain became a center of commerce and distribution for the range and was the natural location for the county seat once the county organized.
Dickinson County Courthouse and Jail
This Richardsonian Romanesque courthouse, erected in 1896-97, is constructed of rock-faced brick, trimmed with Portage Entry sandstone. James E. Clancy, a locally recognized architect who specialized in planning public buildings on the Menominee Iron Range, designed the courthouse. County offices opened here only five years after Dickinson County was created by act of the Michigan State Legislature. The jail, designed to complement the larger structure, originally had thirty-four cells for male prisoners,
and two wards for juvenile and female prisoners on the first floor, with the sheriff's quarters on the first and second floors. County offices moved into the building in 1892.