|West Branch received it name in 1875 by the Michigan Central Railroad. Previously known as Springvale (named by the Lansing, Jackson & Saginaw Railroad in 1872), the MCRR changed it because Springvale already existed along the railway near Boyne City. Other names considered were "Forks", "Branch", and "River Towne". The following year, West Branch Township also recognized the previous named Springvale area as West Branch in West Branch Township.
In 1885, the West Branch area had grown large enough, and economically strong enough to become a village with help from the timber industry. As time progressed, the village continued to grow in population and economics. With this growth, came the need of additional services and financing options which lead to a petition to the Village Council to become incorporated as a City.
|The Village Council questioned and weighted the benefits of becoming a city and determined it would be in the best interest for continued growth. By that review, the Village Council decided to take the idea to the vote of the people. In November 1904, by majority vote, the people approved the incorporation of a City and the Village Council pro ceded in the process.
On March 9, 1905, the State of Michigan recognized the Village of West Branch as an Incorporated City. Their acceptance of the change was based on many determining factors such as its geographical location in the State. Other factors considered was the previous growth of the Village, the strategic location of the railroad to the north, the abundance of natural resources (lumber, lakes & waterways), and the fact that three old Chippewa footpaths came together in its location promising increased growth through importing and exporting of area products. These three Indian footpaths would later become major State Highways that are known today as M-76, M-30 and M-55.
|In 1976, the City of West Branch became a Charter City meaning it would no longer be governed by the Fourth Class City Act. Through this process moving forward, the day-to-day operations of the City would now be handled by a City Manager which remains in place today.
|For the past 30 plus years, the "Smiley" water tower has watched over our fair city, and has welcomed millions of travelers to West Branch , the West Branch Area and the passerby's entering beautiful northern Michigan. "Smiley" is one of the most recognized landmarks along the I-75 corridor and emanates our small town hospitality.
|The City of West Branch is a unique and wonderful community that serves as the county seat for Ogemaw County, Michigan. Consisting of approximately 1.48 square miles of land, West Branch has a population of just over 2,000 citizens. The City itself is home to many great attractions, including our downtown Victorian shopping district, as well as beautiful Iron's Park and our new Downtown Victorian Park. As a beautiful place to live, work, and play, we invite you to come and "Discover Victorian West Branch"!
Information on this page was provided with great appreciation to the Ogemaw County Genealogical & Historical Society, the West Branch Centennial Book Committee, their publications "100 Voices Through 100 Years" ,
"Ogemaw County Historical Review", and the writings of LuAnn Zettle.