West Branch, Michigan

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West Branch, Michigan
Downtown West Branch.
Downtown West Branch.
Nickname(s): "The City with a Smile"
Location of West Branch, Michigan
Location of West Branch, Michigan
Coordinates: 44°16′32″N 84°14′7″W / 44.27556°N 84.23528°W / 44.27556; -84.23528Coordinates: 44°16′32″N 84°14′7″W / 44.27556°N 84.23528°W / 44.27556; -84.23528
Country United States
State Michigan
County Ogemaw
 • Total 1.48 sq mi (3.8 km2)
 • Land 1.48 sq mi (3.8 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 955 ft (291 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 2,139
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 2,116
 • Density 1,400/sq mi (560/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 48661
Area code(s) 989
FIPS code 26-85580[4]
GNIS feature ID 1627248[5]
Website westbranch.com

West Branch is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 2,139. It is the county seat of Ogemaw County.[6]


According to the Ogemaw County Genealogical and Historical Society, West Branch was previously known as Logan's Mills in 1863. It later became West Branch when lumberjacks named it after the "west branch" of the Rifle River. The founders of West Branch were Charles Taber and Mr. Goodar During the early settlement of West Branch laws and enforcement of laws were not set. But, the town never had a high crime problem then. Theft was unheard of to the settlers. Woodsmen would try to run the town for a while, but it never really lasted that long. With very low crime rates, running the town was a difficult thing to do. West Branch was a rich town in these times you could say. Workers were paid well and there was no lack of money for the new settlers. In 1883 there was a major fire that burnt down quite a few businesses on Houghton Avenue. Within a year, the businesses were rebuilt better than they were before. This fire was one of four to five devastating fires that had blazed through West Branch in the early years. This is a town that always bounced back after disasters. Powers, P. F. (n.d.). History of ogemaw county history of northern michigan and

    its people. Retrieved February 24, 2017, from genealogy trails website: 

West Branch has many historical buildings and one of the oldest is the West Branch Public Library. The library was established on September 2, 1905. It has had many different locations and hardships throughout its long history. It first started off on the third floor of the West Branch Hotel and then after a fire took out the block it moved to the top floor of the Tolfree Livingston Block. Another fire hit it in January 1923 and then on November 1, 1926 it was stricken with another hardship when the Ogemaw County Bank failed. It was able to recover by getting funds from the city council. From June 1923 to 1952 the library had increased its hours from two to 30 hours. Finally in September 1949 the city council approved to move the library to the community building which would later be torn down and the land would be used for the library and the city hall. On June 1, 1973 it had reached 40 hours a week and then in 1974 was considered a Class III library serving 5,000-12,999 people. It has grown exponentially and by the time 2005 comes around it has a computerized circulation system accompanied with an automated card catalog.[7]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.48 square miles (3.83 km2), all land.[1]

Major highways[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 139
1890 1,302 836.7%
1900 1,412 8.4%
1910 1,276 −9.6%
1920 1,105 −13.4%
1930 1,164 5.3%
1940 1,962 68.6%
1950 2,098 6.9%
1960 2,025 −3.5%
1970 1,912 −5.6%
1980 1,785 −6.6%
1990 1,914 7.2%
2000 1,926 0.6%
2010 2,139 11.1%
Est. 2015 2,067 [8] −3.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 2,139 people, 1,006 households, and 489 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,445.3 inhabitants per square mile (558.0/km2). There were 1,147 housing units at an average density of 775.0 per square mile (299.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.9% White, 0.5% African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.7% of the population.

There were 1,006 households of which 24.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.9% were married couples living together, 15.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 51.4% were non-families. 45.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 23.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.99 and the average family size was 2.74.

The median age in the city was 44.3 years. 20.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21% were from 25 to 44; 25.2% were from 45 to 64; and 24.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 42.9% male and 57.1% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 1,926 people, 833 households, and 475 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,447.6 per square mile (559.1/km²). There were 916 housing units at an average density of 688.5 per square mile (265.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.17% White, 0.10% African American, 0.52% Native American, 2.60% Asian, 0.16% from other races, and 1.45% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.73% of the population.

There were 833 households out of which 29.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.8% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.9% were non-families. 37.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 30.5% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 15.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 89.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,132, and the median income for a family was $35,385. Males had a median income of $30,677 versus $21,343 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,852. About 9.9% of families and 14.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.4% of those under age 18 and 15.7% of those age 65 or over.


West Branch-Rose City Area Schools is a local public school district. Residents are served by Surline Elementary and Middle Schools, as well as by Ogemaw Heights High School which serves both West Branch and Rose City. The high school's mascot is a Falcon.[10] Saint Joseph School is a private parochial elementary school in West Branch serving students in grades K-8.[11] It is affiliated with the Diocese of Gaylord of the Roman Catholic Church, and is a member of the National Catholic Educational Association.Ogemaw Heights offers a wide range of opportunities for its students. If a class a student is interested in is not offered on the school’s campus online classes are offered. This allows for students to pick the classes that interest them and they stay engaged in their learning. Students are given the opportunity to take as many as 9 advanced placement classes: AP Biology, AP Literature and Composition, AP Calculus, AP Statistics (2018-2019), AP Chemistry, AP U.S. History, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP World History, AP Language & Composition. Each of these classes can be counted for college credit if the student gets high scores on the AP exam.


Heights also offers dual enrollment classes to their students. This allows students to be enrolled in college classes as well as their normal high school classes. This allows them to get general education classes out of the way, so students can earn their degree quicker. The staff at Ogemaw Heights Strives to give each student the best education possible. They strive to give every student the chance to succeed.

"Search." Search. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2017. <http://www.wbrc.k12.mi.us/search/>.

Kirtland community College operates locally. Many college students find themselves struggling with whether or not to start off at a community college,but a lot of the times these people hear of the amazing opportunities some community colleges have to offer and are instantly won over. Kirtland Community College is the only college campus in the district of West Branch and the closest to many surrounding areas, making it more convenient for the students who might have had to travel far if Kirtland was not a choice. Kirtland offers several degrees and career field opportunities ranging from health science, art and business, public safety and trades works to online and transfer degrees. Kirtland is not only diverse with the student body, but also within the entire state. They have transfer agreements with other affiliated universities throughout the state of Michigan. It isn’t your large university with thousands of people so along with saving a lot of money, there are a lot of opportunities offered to the students. Due to being such a small community college, Kirtland is able to award scholarships to their students each semester who show sign of financial need; that being just one of the many scholarships they offer. Along with the scholarships that are offered, they also have work study connections within the community of West Branch which again, is very convenient for many of the students attending this college. Kirtland has a total of four campuses one of each residing in West Branch, Roscommon, Gaylord and a new campus being built in Grayling. Some people may think that attending a community college means they can’t participate in any sports because they are not offered, but that is not the case at Kirtland. They offer a few sporting teams for the people that like to stay busy and enjoy themselves while taking college courses. Some of these sports include cross country, golf and a newly added bowling team. This past bowling season, the Kirtland Firebirds took third overall in the conference with two of the men going to nationals in Buffalo, New York. Many students find it to be a great opportunity; one of the many great opportunities Kirtland Community College has to offer. To West Branch, Kirtland is its own little hidden treasure that offers the youth here in the town an opportunity at a college education without breaking the bank.[citation needed]


West Branch Regional Medical Center is located on 2463 S. M-30. They offer many different specialties such as rehabilitation programs, educational sources specific to the condition shown and a revolutionary Wound Care Center.[12] The rehabilitation programs offered range from neurological to physical. The three main programs they offer are Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy. A couple of the Physical Therapy treatments offered are Post-surgical hip rehabilitation and even a Weight-management program. Their Occupation therapy offers the ailments of Functional Capacity Evaluations and shoulder pain and post-surgical shoulder rehabilitation. Speech Therapy programs help with speech and cognitive disorders and also swallowing disorders.[13] The Wound Care Center at West Branch Regional Medical Center offers many opportunities to patients who suffer from non-healing wounds or from a chronic pain wound. This program offers cutting edge treatment including but not limited to; debridement, specialized wound dressings, compression therapy, bioengineered skin grafts, hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This gives patients hope that maybe their wounds really will heal. Non-healing wounds usually can be caused by poor circulation to the wound or if the patient is unable to move shortly after a surgery or serious wounds. The Wound Care Center is a place that gives patients that they will one day heal from their serious wounds.[14]

On July 1, 2010, West Branch Regional Medical Center closed its obstetric ward, no longer serving expectant mothers in the community. No other units were anticipated to close at the time, and expectant mothers were referred to nearby hospitals in cities like Tawas, Saginaw, or Bay City for delivery, after consulting with their physician.[15]


West Branch contains a City park named Irons Park located on S Valley Street. The park was named after the original land owner, Archie Irons. He owned part of the park and a local grocery store. In 1955, the park was sold and given to the City of West Branch. Many events are held in the park yearly. These include the Easter egg hunt, Humane Society Mutt March, Summer Music Series, Victorian Art Fair, fishing derby and duck races to name a few. The Park is the home of Fort Austin, in memory of Austin Clark. It consists of a large complex modern wooden play-scape. The park has many activities available, including biking, fishing, bird watching and many children's activities.[16] The park also has two tennis courts, basketball courts, picnic tables, grills, and two bathroom facilities. In the winter, Irons Park is often used for sledding. West Branch also has two bowling alleys,Ogemaw Lanes and Hi-Skore. The movie theater, West Branch Cinema 3, is located in the downtown Victorian district. Special seasonal activities also abound in the area. Kirtland Community College hosts R.O.A.R. (Rock Out Against Rape) Battle of the Bands for the River House of Grayling. In February, West Branch is home to the Ogemaw County Winterfest. The Ogemaw County Fair is held on the third week in August on Rifle River Trail, just 8 miles east of the city.[17] West Branch hosts Relay For Life during the last week of July in Irons Park. Relay for Life supports the fight against breast cancer and raises money for charities as well as increasing awareness of supporting breast cancer.[18]

Airsoft, a game similar to paintball except focusing more on realism and using 6 mm (0.24 in) plastic bbs as opposed to paintballs, is also a growing recreational activity in the West Branch area. Since 2012 the Ogemaw County Airsoft Association has been working to grow the sport of Airsoft in the area. They have even gone as far to set up displays at West Branch's own Fabulous Fridays the past two years. They have hosted games that have attracted players from all across Michigan. They most often operate in the summer months but have been known to host games in the spring, fall and winter. They currently operate an airsoft field on a 20-acre plot of land about 5 miles outside of West Branch. The field has started major maintenance in August 2014 and will still be ongoing construction into the summer of 2015.[19][20]

Fabulous Fridays[edit]

West Branch hosts Fabulous Fridays downtown during the summer months of June through August. Some of the events hosted are Gone Country, Classy Chassis, West Branch's Got talent, A Taste of West Branch, and Hometown Heroes. Gone Country is a farming themed night where the town is decorated with a country theme and farmers can bring their tractors to show off. Classy Chassis is a car show where people from all over the state bring their classic cars to show to people. West Branch's Got Talent is a talent show for all ages, including family friendly music and performances. A taste of West Branch has local restaurants featuring food samples, giving people a chance to try new places to eat. Hometown Heroes gives civilians a chance to visit and talk with local law enforcement and war veterans. People are given a chance to honor and show their appreciation for the hero's services.[21][22][23]


This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, West Branch has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.[24]


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: West Branch, Michigan
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ http://westbranchlibrary.org/liveCMS/?q=history
  8. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  10. ^ "West Branch Rose City Area Schools > Home". wbrc.k12.mi.us. 
  11. ^ "St Joseph Catholic School > Home". wbstjoseph.com. 
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ [3]
  15. ^ "WBRMC not planning to suspend additional services - Ogemaw County Herald". ogemawherald.com. Retrieved 2016-04-27. 
  16. ^ "Irons Park - West Branch - RecreationParks.net". recreationparks.net. 
  17. ^ "West Branch Visitors Bureau". visitwestbranch.com. 
  18. ^ "Relay For Life of Ogemaw County". acsevents.org. 
  19. ^ "Ogemaw County Airsoft Association". ogemawvoice.com. 
  20. ^ "OCAA Facebook Page". facebook.com. 
  21. ^ "Fabulous Fridays". westbranchevents.com. 
  22. ^ "Fabulous Fridays sets 2013 schedule". ogemawherald.com. 
  23. ^ "» Fabulous Fridays". wbacc.com. 
  24. ^ "West Branch, Michigan Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. 

External links[edit]