The Oldest Township in Michigan: Created in 1837
According to the Muskegon Township web page, their Township “is the oldest (one) in the State of Michigan. It was (the) first township in the new State of Michigan to be created by the State Legislature in 1837 and included parts of what is now Ottawa and Oceana Counties.”
Going back even more years, the area was the land of the Ottawa and Potawatomi tribes. They lived in the vicinity which would become Muskegon throughout the 1730s until the French kicked them out in 1742 and sent them to Traverse City.
Muskegon got its name thanks to those tribes...the word is taken from the native American term "Masquigon" which is their word for swampy land.
Edward Fitzgerald was a trapper who came and settled here in 1748, becoming the first white person with a permanent residence. It took many years later – 1837 in fact - for a settlement to begin and the township to be organized. With the settlers came their knowledge of sawmills and lumber, thus taking advantage of Michigan's lumber boom of the era.
In the 1880s there were 47 sawmills around Muskegon Lake and more on White Lake. With all the combined efforts of these mills, they produced over 665,000,000 of cut board in 1887. Thanks to all this lumber action, Muskegon became nicknamed the "Lumber Queen of the World."
By 1900, the lumber era was coming to an end. Needing an alternative economic plan, local industrialists developed a plan that attracted more businesses to Muskegon. This succeeded until the 1950s, when economic woes returned. The 60s and 70s saw business consolidation and since then, Muskegon did – and is still doing – very well.
The gallery below contains over 50 photos of Muskegon's old days, from the 1890s-1940s...
Vintage Photos of Muskegon
MORE VINTAGE MICHIGAN PHOTOS: