The L’Anse area was first occupied by the Sugar Island Band of Ojibwa Indians who utilized the rich fishing grounds in the area. 1660 was marked by the entrance of Father Rene Menard, a French Jesuit Priest. Menard was the first white person on record to arrive in the area.
L’Anse was founded in 1871 when a preliminary route was platted from the eastern end of Lake Michigamme to the head of the Keweenaw Bay. The village was founded with the intention that it would become a port and house numerous stamping mills for the nearby iron ore mines. It was in August of 1871 that village stores were built. The first railroad engine did not reach L’Anse until December 17, 1872. The village was in the midst of a boom when it quickly came to an end with the panic of 1873.
Again twenty-three years later L’Anse was faced with another setback. On May 9, 1896 a fire, started at the L’Anse Lumber Company, ravaged the village. The village was gradually rebuilt. Henry Ford bought the sawmill in 1922. The mill went on to ship as much as 180,000 board feet of lumber a day.