Rose City / The Big Fire
Named for the Rose family which came to Ogemaw County around 1871, Rose City originated as Churchill and was located one-half mile west of here. During the 1870s Churchill consisted of a post office, a general store, a boardinghouse and settler's homes. William Rose had come from New York State, drawn to the pines and hardwoods available for lumbering, and built a sawmill along Houghton Creek. Rose's son Allan, a Churchill merchant and the first postmaster, formed a lumber company with M.S. French of West Branch. In 1892 he persuaded the Detroit and Mackinac Railroad to build a branch line to serve the area's lumbering operations. The entire Churchill settlement relocated here that year and was platted as Rose City. The community was officially incorporated as a city in 1905.
The Big Fire
In the early morning hours of April 3, 1910, the booming lumber town of Rose City went up in flames as fire raged through the commercial district. Starting in D.W. Benjamin's grocery store on the south side of West Main Street, the fire quickly spread. Despite the efforts of a bucket brigade, the fire jumped across the street and swept down the north side. As most of the buildings were of frame construction, it took less than an hour for the entire business district to burn. The town lost over thirty buildings. Property losses attributed to the fire and looting totaled an estimated $175,000. Two concrete buildings on the Main Street, those that housed Bell's Store and Naylor's Store, were the only businesses to survive the fire.