Rose City is a small city located in Ogemaw County, Michigan with a total area of 1.09 square miles. Rose City was originally named Churchill and was a lumbering town. The area had much sought after giant pines and old timber. Land was cleared, a general store and housing was built. The post office opened on September 8, 1875, under the name Churchill.
William Rose moved his family came from New York in 1875. William later returned to New York but one of his Allan stayed. He formed a partnership with M.H. French called French and Rose Land Company and they started a new settlement 1.5 miles east of Churchill.
In 1892 with the arrival of the railroad line to the new settlement to serve the lumber business the town of Churchill moved east. The town’s name was changed to Rose City to honor the Rose family. The city was incorporated in 1905 as a fourth-class city.
What is a fourth-class city?
The Fourth Class City Act 215 of 1895 in Michigan Compiled Laws states: That all cities within the state of Michigan heretofore incorporated and made subject to the provisions of this act or which shall hereafter be incorporated under the provisions of this act, and containing a population not exceeding 10,000 according to the last preceding federal or state census, shall be cities of the fourth class.
The Big Fire
On April 3, 1910, the city was almost completely destroyed in a major fire. Within an hour 30 buildings burned down. The fire was believed to have started in D.W. Benjamin’s Grocery Story in his basement. The fire quickly spread to nearby buildings and despite the efforts of local firefighters, much of the downtown was destroyed.
The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damages (roughly $1.3 million today). There were no reported fatalities, but many families were left homeless. Many businesses decided not to rebuild effectively ending Rose City’s lumbering center.
In the 30’s Rose City became a destination for tourists. With over 75 lakes within 15 minutes of the city tourists flocked to the area in the summer. The area also was popular amongst campers, hunters, and fishermen.
The area was once referred to as “The home of Artesian Wells” because of the many artesian wells found in Rose City’s water supply.
In 2002 the City of Rose City and the site of the historic fire were designated as Michigan State Historic Site and a double-sided historic marketer was erecting in Rose City Park.
Rose City is known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. The city is situated in a scenic area of northern Michigan, with forests, lakes, and rivers nearby. There are many opportunities for fishing, hunting, hiking, and camping in the surrounding areas. The Rifle River runs through part of the city. Nearby Lupton is home to the Rifle River Recreation Area that offers year round recreation opportunities.
The park has 10 no-wake lakes and ponds and several streams besides the Rifle River. Camping, cabin, and boat rental are available. The park offers a wide variety of activities including swimming, Rifle River Trails, fishing, snowmobile trails and more.
Overall, Rose City is a small, quiet community that offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Rose City/The Big Fire
Civil War and After (1860 – 1875) – Registered in 2002 and erected in 2002 – ID # L2107
Located at the City Park, Rose City, Rose Township – Lat: 44.42430600/Long: -84.11624900
Named for the Rose family, which came to Ogemaw County around 1871, Rose City originated as Churchill and was located one-half mile west of here. During the 1870s, Churchill consisted of a post office, a general store, a boardinghouse and settlers´ homes. William Rose had come from New York State, drawn to the pines and hardwoods available for lumbering, and built a sawmill along Houghton Creek. Rose´s son Allan, a Churchill merchant and the first postmaster, formed a lumber company with M.S. French of West Branch. In 1892 he persuaded the Detroit and Mackinac Railroad to build a branch line to serve the area´s lumbering operations. The entire Churchill settlement relocated here that year and was platted as Rose City. The community was officially incorporated as a city in 1905.
The Big Fire
In the early morning hours of April 3, 1910, the booming lumber town of Rose City went up in flames as fire raged through the commercial district. Starting in D.W. Benjamin´s grocery store on the south side of West Main Street, the fire quickly spread. Despite the efforts of a bucket brigade, the fire jumped across the street and swept down the north side. As most of the buildings were of frame construction, it took less than an hour for the entire business district to burn. The town lost over thirty buildings. Property losses, attributed to the fire and looting, totaled an estimated $175,000. Two concrete buildings on Main Street, those that housed Bell´s Store and Naylor´s Store, were the only businesses to survive the fire.