A look back in the History of Pellston

Village Church 1920

Since Pellston recorded the State of Michigan's record low temperature, a frigid -53o F. back in 1933, it has been unofficially known as the "ICEBOX". The Federal Trademark "Icebox of the Nation" has belonged for many years to International Falls, MN.

With temperatures in Pellston well below zero for an average of around 40 days each winter, and beginning each November averaging the coldest temperatures in the state, it continues to be one of the coldest places in the nation.


Many people nationwide hear the name of Pellston on their local weather each morning in the winter, along with towns like Big Piney, Wyoming, Fraser, Colorado and International Falls, Minnesota, it is continually called out as one of the coldest spots.

The record lows and the continuous cold streaks in Pellston are caused by a unique geography, as the village sits in a basin of sand between two vast semi-circular hill ranges. As the Maple River passes thru the basin, evaporation causes dense daytime cloud-cover, reflecting much of the suns heat away from the valley. As night falls and the air cools, those low-level clouds disperse allowing most of the remaining heat to radiate up and out of the basin.

As hard as it is to get used to the low temperatures, living in Pellston is not without its advantages. The Maple River, which contributes greatly to this cycle of cooling is also one of the area's richest trout streams, providing fun and challenge for many anglers. The high hills surrounding the basin contain several of the best ski resorts in the state including The Highlands of Boyne USA. Also, the many railroad grades that came into Pellston in the early 1900's for the lumber mills are now some of the longest and best snowmobile trails in all of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, allowing a rider to go from Mackinaw City to Harbor Springs and beyond.

All told, if you love winter and all the outdoor pursuits that accompany it, the ICEBOX is a great place to be.