Chocolay Township

Township History


During the 1700s, the Ojibwa people (also known as the Chippewa) inhabited the area and used the area as a summer camping place. Early explorers used the name “Chocolate” for the area because of the dark brown color of the river that runs through the Township (the color was caused by tannic acid from decaying vegetation of the interconnected swamps and marshes). The Chocolate River became the boundary for the Treaty of 1842 when the Chippewa gave the mineral lands to the west of the river to the United States government (the river name was changed to Chocolay in the late 1800s).

Township Formation

In March of 1860, Chocolay Township was cut from a part of Marquette Township, what at the time covered all of Marquette County. Various parts remaining from this split were later set up as the surrounding townships of Forsyth, Sands, Skandia, Turnin and West Branch.

Chocolay Township later became a Charter Township on May 16, 1972.

Iron Ore History

Chocolay Township became part of the history of the iron ore industry in 1860 when Charles T. Harvey directed the building of a blast furnace at the mouth of the Chocolay River. As a result, the Township became a political and geographical unit in 1860, and Harvey authorized the platting of the Village of Harvey in 1864.


Sawmills were built to support the furnace operation which experienced many economic ups and downs over the following years. Other businesses developed to support the growing community, such as dairies and service businesses. However, logging and farming were mainstays of the Township’s economy for many years. The most successful farmers settled on lands with hardwoods as opposed to pine, as the soils associated with the pines were not as productive.

Interactive History