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Crystal Falls, Michigan
Looking east at downtown Crystal Falls
Looking east at downtown Crystal Falls
Location within Iron County
Location within Iron County
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Coordinates: 46°5′50″N 88°19′56″W / 46.09722°N 88.33222°W / 46.09722; -88.33222
Country United States
State Michigan
County Iron
Area
 • Total 3.64 sq mi (9.42 km2)
 • Land 3.49 sq mi (9.05 km2)
 • Water 0.14 sq mi (0.38 km2)
Elevation
1,476 ft (450 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 1,469
 • Estimate 
(2019)
1,364
 • Density 390.61/sq mi (150.79/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
49920
Area code(s) 906
FIPS code 26-19140
GNIS feature ID 0624170

Crystal Falls is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 1,469. It is the county seat of Iron County. The city is located within Crystal Falls Township, but is a separate municipal entity. The area first developed as a major center for iron mining and the timber industry; it has become increasingly popular for tourism in recent years.

History

Crystal Falls was platted in 1881. It was named for a nearby icy waterfall on the Paint River. A post office called Crystal Falls has been in operation since 1885.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.61 square miles (9.35 km2), of which 3.47 square miles (8.99 km2) is land and 0.14 square miles (0.36 km2) is water. The city is very hilly and the castle-like county courthouse (built in 1890) sits on the highest point, overlooking the downtown business district.

Transportation

Climate

Michigan State University's study of Crystal Falls weather concluded that precipitation was well distributed throughout the year with the crop season, April–September, receiving an average of 20.30 inches (516 mm) or 68% of the average annual total for the 1962-80 period. During this same period the average wettest month was June with 3.96 inches (101 mm), while the average driest month was February with 1.02 inches (26 mm). The National Weather Service's 1971–2000 data shows a 30-year normal annual precipitation of 29.65 inches (753 mm).

The following precipitation extremes, based on the time period of this station's published record, are: greatest observation-day total, 3.86 inches, recorded June 14, 1981; greatest monthly total, 12.48 inches, recorded June 1981; and least monthly total, 0.00 inches, recorded on several occasions.

Summer precipitation comes mainly in the form of afternoon showers and thundershowers. Annually, thunderstorms will occur on an average of 33 days. There are normally 139.2 days with measurable precipitation.

The 1950-51 through 1979-80 average seasonal snowfall was 70.6 inches (1.79 m). During this period, 143 days per season averaged 1-inch (25 mm) or more of snow on the ground, but varied greatly from season to season.

The following snowfall extremes, based on the time period of this station's published record, are: greatest observation-day total, 18.0 inches, recorded March 7, 1926; greatest monthly total, 53.4 inches, recorded March 1939; greatest seasonal total, 143.2 inches, recorded during 1942-43; least seasonal total, 31.6 inches, recorded during 1963-64 and 1 earlier season; and greatest snowdepth, 47 inches, recorded March 15, 1926.

Although there are no longer official temperature observations in Crystal Falls, Michigan State University concluded that temperatures are similar to those at the National Weather Service office in Marquette, Michigan. Temperature records kept from 1962 to 1989 by the National Climatic Data Center show a record high of 99 degrees on June 30, 1963, and July 20, 1977. The record low was -42 degrees on February 17, 1979. Annually, there were an average of 4.4 days with highs of 90 degrees or higher; 96.9 days with highs of 32 degrees or lower; 207.1 days with lows of 32 degrees or lower; and 55.1 days with lows of 0 degrees or lower. Freezing temperatures were recorded in every month except July, which had a record low of 33 degrees on July 6, 1965.

Climate data for Crystal Falls, Michigan
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 20.8
(-6.22)
26.3
(-3.17)
36.5
(2.5)
50.5
(10.28)
65.8
(18.78)
74.0
(23.33)
78.6
(25.89)
75.9
(24.39)
66.2
(19)
53.7
(12.06)
37.4
(3)
25.1
(-3.83)
50.9
(10.5)
Average low °F (°C) −2.1
(-18.94)
1.0
(-17.22)
12.2
(-11)
26.0
(-3.33)
37.6
(3.11)
47.0
(8.33)
51.7
(10.94)
50.3
(10.17)
41.9
(5.5)
32.3
(0.17)
20.9
(-6.17)
6.4
(-14.22)
27.1
(-2.72)
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.24
(31.5)
0.82
(20.8)
1.79
(45.5)
2.17
(55.1)
2.92
(74.2)
3.86
(98)
3.57
(90.7)
3.59
(91.2)
3.66
(93)
2.67
(67.8)
2.01
(51.1)
1.35
(34.3)
29.65
(753.1)
Source: "Climatography of the United States," National Climatic Data Center (www.ncdc.noaa.gov)

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 3,231
1910 3,775 16.8%
1920 3,394 −10.1%
1930 2,995 −11.8%
1940 2,641 −11.8%
1950 2,316 −12.3%
1960 2,203 −4.9%
1970 2,000 −9.2%
1980 1,965 −1.7%
1990 1,922 −2.2%
2000 1,791 −6.8%
2010 1,469 −18.0%
2019 (est.) 1,364 −7.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

At the 2010 census there were 1,469 people in 700 households, including 402 families, in the city. The population density was 423.3 inhabitants per square mile (163.4/km2). There were 893 housing units at an average density of 257.3 per square mile (99.3/km2). The racial makup of the city was 96.9% White, 0.2% African American, 0.7% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.0%.

Of the 700 households 22.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.9% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.6% were non-families. 39.6% of households were one person and 20.2% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.73.

The median age was 48.3 years. 19.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 19.3% were from 25 to 44; 32.1% were from 45 to 64; and 22.5% were 65 or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.4% male and 50.6% female.

Arts and culture

Crystal Falls is home to the Crystal Theater, a regional performing arts center.

Head to the ice the last weekend in February on the Michigamme reservoir for the annual Fisheree tournament. A tradition that most locals look forward to all year.

In April 1992, Crystal Falls received international attention due to the discovery of a giant fungus, Armillaria bulbosa, in the nearby forest. The discovery was announced in articles in Nature and the New York Times. The fungus covered an area of more than 30 acres (120,000 m2) and had a total mass estimated at 100 tons. At the time it was believed to be the oldest living organism on earth, as well as one of the largest.

Although the fungus is actually located in nearby Mastodon Township, Michigan, the city of Crystal Falls adopted it as a tourist attraction, and holds a "Humungus Fungus Fest" as an annual event.

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