Labranche was a station on the Metropolitan branch of the Chicago and North Western Railroad. In 1882 as part of the need to get the Upper Peninsula’s vast lumber resources to larger markets, the CNW decided to build a rail line from Narenta (west of Escanaba) to the growing town of Metropolitan (Felch) about 35 miles away. Along this route would pop up small mill town communities serving the lumber and rail industries. Labranche would be one of these short lived communities.

The town was named after the pioneer settler Israel Labranche. The village formed in 1882 around the sawmill of the William Mueller Company, which owned such holdings as Blaney Park. The William Mueller Co. went bankrupt and was sold in a Sheriff’s Sale in 1909. The William Mueller Co. and its properties, including the Labranche operation, were purchased by the Wisconsin Land & Lumber Co., which was the producer of IXL flooring. However, by the 1930s, the Wisconsin Land & Lumber Co. went into decline and would close all operations in 1943.

The village of Labranche had a saw and shingle mill, general store, and saloon. The Labranche post office operated until the spring of 1948. By 1970 the railroad branch that went through La Branche had been decommissioned.

Today, there is little left of the community with the exception of a well preserved school house along Highway 69. It is now the township hall and serves as a social center for community events. The Labranche Tavern is located about a ½ mile up Highway 69 from the schoolhouse. The tavern is next to a historic home, but is now a modern building. Across the street is an abandoned home that is one of Labranche’s few remaining buildings from its heyday.

Contemporary Images

Historic Images