George W. Hopkins

This article is about the Florida industrialist. For the Virginia congressman and lawyer, see George Washington Hopkins.

George W. Hopkins was a lumberman involved in the removal of tens of thousands of acres of virgin forests in Michigan and Florida.

Hopkins was born in 1844 in Virginia. His father soon moved his family to Michigan in search of farm land. Hopkins became a surveyor and map maker at a young age, and then moved to Manistee, Michigan in search of work. Along with his brother David, wife Ella, and sister Martha, he commenced to start a brick manufacturing business in Manistee, and then soon found profit in the lumber business.

In 1873, the Hopkins family purchased the 88 acres (360,000 m2) of the current village of Bear Lake, Michigan. The Hopkins built a saw mill, a grist mill, several business buildings, platted the village, and built homes for themselves.

In the 1870s, Hopkins build a railroad, the Bear Lake & Eastern, which moved logs to the mill, and from the mill moved lumber to a pier five miles (8 km) to the west of Bear Lake, on Lake Michigan. The area there was named Pierport.

In 1902, all of virgin forests in the Bear Lake vicinity had been removed, and the saw mill was closed.

He had at least one daughter, named Agnes.

Hopkins' attention turned to Eau Gallie, Florida. where he had purchased over 10,000 acres (40 km2).

While commencing the lumber business in Florida, he completed a drainage canal in 1909, now called Hopkins Canal, along present day Aurora Road between Lake Washington and the Eau Gallie River. The general idea and location of a navigable canal near the Hopkins Canal was first proposed by William Henry Gleason in 1871. After passage of the Drainage District Act in 1913, George W. Hopkins organized a huge drainage project.

He founded the towns of Deer Park, Florida and Hopkins, Florida. Some books consider William H. Kempfer, his son-in-law, the founder of Deer Park. As of 2005, the Kempfer Sawmill still exists in Deer Park. He founded the Union Cypress Company in 1914. He died in 1925.


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