West Branch is located in Ogemaw County (of which it is the county seat) north of Bay City between Houghton Lake and Tawas City along Highway 55 near Peach and Hardwood lakes.
The population estimate for July 1, 1998 was 2,109, an increase of 195 since 1990.
This town was given its name from its location on the west branch of the Rifle River. It began in the early 1870s when the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad built a line to the area for transporting lumber. It was given a post office in 1873 and organized as a village in 1885. It later reorganized as a city in 1905.
Today, West Branch has experienced steady growth, with a diverse economy supported by tourism, small businesses and various production facilities, such as machinery, auto industry related products and lumber processing. The downtown area contains many unique shops and restaurants.