Stolen Courthouse - Crystal Falls, Michigan
Crystal Falls - The Heart of Iron County Michigan - www.crystalfallsmi.com
While the Iron County Courthouse is now a national landmark, many people will recall the lore which surrounds it and the bold political larceny assigned to its origins. When the state legislature set off Iron County from Marquette County in 1885, the City of Iron River, Michigan, was designated temporary county seat. A permanent site was to be chosen later by election. Neighboring Crystal Falls, older but by a few months and more densely populated, cherished the title of county seat.
The "Stealing of the Courthouse" has been the topic of many a conversation and article. It is somewhat difficult to separate the fact from fiction. Most versions of the story agree that a poker game was arranged to follow a board of supervisors meeting in the temporary courthouse. The game was at its height at the Old Boyington Hotel. Two Crystal Falls, men, Frank Scadden and Bert Hughitt, left the game pretending to go upstairs to bed. Instead, they sneaked out and back to the temporary courthouse. Treasurer Hughitt cleared the safe of all county records, loaded them on a sled and took them to the rail yard where they were loaded into a boxcar. The two men took the records to Stager, the oldest station in the County, and then they were put into safe keeping – some say in hollow pine trees, other in the Mastodon Mine. With the courthouse records no longer at hand, the county seat was up for grabs and Crystal Falls won out.