How have I spent five decades living in the great state of Michigan without knowing that charcoal was invented in the Upper Peninsula? In fact, it was more or less the brainchild of a man whose name is synonymous with manufacturing here in Michigan.

If you're throwing burgers and hotdogs on the grill this weekend, there's probably a bag of Kingsford charcoal nearby. Its origin dates back a little more than one hundred years to the small town in the Western UP known as Kingsford, Michigan.

Kingsford is so far west that it's actually part of the Central Time Zone.

SEE ALSO:  Why Does Michigan Still Observe Two Different Time Zones?

The Upper Peninsula and the Model T

In the early 1900s, a considerable amount of wood was used in automobiles. Henry Ford's Model T featured parts like the dashboard, frame, floorboards, and even steering wheel that were all made from wood.

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According to the Mining Journal, the Kingsford Sawmill was established in 1921 to meet the needs of Ford's factories. Logging in the UP became big business as the Ford Motor Company harvested lumber from about 500,000 acres of forest at the time.

From Sawdust to Briquettes

Henry Ford - ever conscious about efficiency - saw the leftover sawdust that was being created by the sawmills. He contracted a chemist to devise a way to turn sawdust into pillow-shaped lumps of fuel and the charcoal briquette was born.

A factory, designed by Thomas Edison, for making charcoal briquettes was built next to the sawmill in Kingsford. According to the Mining Journal, charcoal briquettes were initially sold only at Ford dealerships.

Today Kingsford Charcoal brand is owned by the Clorox Company and manufactures its briquettes in Kentucky, Oregon, Missouri, and West Virginia.


This Cozy UP Cabin is Way, Way Off the Grid

Here's a way to put miles and miles between you and your neighbors. (But this cabin in the middle of 80 acres in the UP also puts miles and miles between you and civilization.

And since you asked, there is power. At least some of the time thanks to a solar system with battery backup.

Gallery Credit: George McIntyre

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