Iron River was named the temporary county seat, which did not sit well with people in the eastern part of the county, particularly those in Crystal Falls, who waited for another county seat to be selected.
Then, in early 1887, afraid that delays would only add to the strengths of Iron River, residents of the eastern part of the county “stole” the county government.
According to legend, a poker game was arranged after a county commissioners meeting. With the game still hot, Commissioners Frank Scadden and Burt Hughitt, both of Crystal Falls, left the game, pretending that they were going to go to bed.
Instead, they went to the building that served as the county courthouse, loaded the county records onto a sled and moved them to a safe hiding place (some say a hollow tree, others a mine shaft). Enraged, Iron River residents threatened to have the records returned by force, but were dissuaded.
Both communities turned their attention to the referendum to officially decide the issue. Reports are that there were voting irregularities, such as the registering of dead men, importing lumberjacks from other counties as voters, and the destruction of ballots.
In the end, Crystal Falls won by five votes. A permanent county seat had been selected.
The mining industry grew rapidly in Iron County. By 1893, 1.2 million tons of ore had been shipped from mines in the Iron River District alone.
Then a nationwide depression hit the mining industry. Only three of the county’s twenty-six mines were operating by 1894.
The county turned to lumbering, its second industry, to keep its government afloat. The mining industry never recovered.