Michigan's map has been relatively stable for decades. Rare is a new city or village that is created - in the last few decades only a handful have incorporated in Michigan like Lake Isabella. When the small community near Mount Pleasant voted in 1998 to become a village, they became the first new village in the state in nearly 50 years.

Elsewhere some villages have chosen to become cities to have better control over the local area. This happened in Douglas near Saugatuck, which voted in 2004 to transition from a village to a city.

Michigan's Historic City Mergers

Look back more than 100 years and merging of cities was commonplace. Saginaw exists today after the state legislature merged Saginaw City with East Saginaw. Bay City incorporated West Bay City, which itself was a consolidation of 3 villages. Ann Arbor took in the former city of East Ann Arbor. Nearby Ypsilanti gobbled up East Ypsilanti. Detroit incorporated several neighboring villages into its city limits over the years including Delray, Warrendale, and Springwells.

READ MORE: Now Forgotten, Mid-Michigan City Was Once 'Where the Summer Trails Begin'

Iron River's Big Bite Municipal Merger

But no city has been hungrier in Michigan than the Upper Peninsula city of Iron River. In 2000 it swallowed up the neighboring city of Stambaugh and village of Mineral Hills. Interestingly, this stretch of Iron County was one home to 5 separate municipalities. After the 2000 mergers with Iron River, only the nearby cities of Caspian and Gaastra remain independent from the larger Iron River.

The Iron River merger plan started in 1994, 6 years before the vote and looked to consolidate all 5 of the connected cities and villages. Caspian and Gaastra turned down the proposal.

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Modern Day Michigan City Merger Attempts

The 2000 merger is incredibly rare in Michigan. The Michigan Municipal League dug in on the merger and reported that since the successful 2000 case with Iron River few other mergers were attempted. It happened with the Flint suburb of Grand Blanc and Grand Blanc Township explored combining into one municipality with the effort failing as the city voters turned down the proposal.

Bridge Michigan picks up the story and tells of unsuccessful merger attempts with Onekema village and township in Manistee County and a failed merger of the Grand Haven suburbs of Spring Lake and Ferrysburg. Last in 2011 a proposal to merge Kent County and the City of Grand Rapids (a la combined city/county governments seen in places in Indianapolis and Louisville) never got out of the starting gate.

So it's a true rarity, the successful merger of Michigan municipalities in the modern age but if you ever make it to Iron River in the west central Upper Peninsula, see if you can spot the old boundaries of Stambaugh and Mineral Hills as the former places slip into history.

These Short, Overlooked MIchigan Highways Exist Only to Leave the State

These short, stubby Michigan highways don't go anywhere other than to the state line with either Indiana, Ohio or Wisconsin.

Gallery Credit: Google Maps Street View

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