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This is a county formed three years since, from portions of Saginaw and Midland; and embracing the whole of what was formerly known as Arenac county. It is bounded on the north by Iosco and Ogemaw counties, on the east by Saginaw bay and Tuscola county, on the south by Saginaw county, and on the west by Midland and Gladwin counties. The Saginaw river flows for a short distance through the southern part of the county, and the Coq-a-lane, Potatoe, White Feather, Sagenin, Rifle and Aux Grais rivers flow easterly through the northern and central portions, into Saginaw bay. The general surface of the county is level, heavily wooded, and in some parts swampy.
The soil is in most parts a deep rich loam, which produces abundantly all the crops known in central New York. There are but six organized townships in the county: Arenac, Bangor, Bay City, Hampton, Portsmouth and Williams. In Bangor, Bay City and Portsmouth, lying on the Saginaw river, there are extensive salt works now in active operation, and several others in process of erection, also large manufactories of lumber. Owing to the importance and value of the salt, lumber and fishing interests, in which a majority of the inhabitants are engaged, but little attention has been paid to agriculture, and for many years to come the county will be celebrated for its manufactures rather than its agricultural productions. Bay City, the county seat, has a fine harbor, and is a place of considerable importance. The present population of the county is about 4,000,--the census of 1860 shows 3,169. There were in 1860 twenty steam sawmills in operation, cutting 44,850,000 feet of lumber per season. The number of mills and amount of lumber sawed is now greatly increased. For a county but recently opened, the educational facilities are very good, and the improvement in this respect is very marked. The whole number of pupils attending school in 1860 was 563.