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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.



Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Upper Peninsula
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
Don’t Know
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Probably Not, Although Still Very Few Black People

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1890 7,743 0
1910 12821 4
1930 14,299 1
1940 13369 0
1950 11466 2
1960 10265 1
1970 8711 3
1980 7741 0
1990 6,849 6
2000 6,293 6 45 14
2010 5387 29 58 13

Method of Exclusion

  • Unknown

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


“My father worked for the Chicago & Northwest RR and told me that as recently as the early 1960s anyone black on train crews would be told they couldn’t stay overnight in Ironwood. The porters on the passenger trains experienced enough harassment from local law enforcement that they wouldn’t step on to the depot platform while the train was in the station… I took the train often enough back then to notice and when I asked my dad why the porter never got off the train there he explained that Ironwood was a sun down town (and that’s the phrase he used) where blacks were not allowed to spend the night or, indeed, even be on the depot platform passing through once the sun went down.”
-posted to the web, 2005

A college professor, teaching at Michigan State in 1956, had a student who asked him “Are you a nigger-lover?” when the class discussed race.

* In the new millennium, Ironwood developed a more tolerant outlook and is no longer sundown.