Grand Haven Area History
By 1827 Robinson has established 20 trading posts in lower West Michigan. He obtained rights to Grand Haven area lands in a U.S. Patent dated December 2, 1833. Less than a year later Grand Haven’s first permanent white settlers, Rev. William Montague Ferry, with family and friends, sailed down the east coast of Lake Michigan to the mouth of the Grand River. The group set ashore at Rix Robinson’s fur trading post, located near the foot of today’s Washington Street. They spent their first year in makeshift lodgings, but by the spring of 1835 they had erected permanent dwellings and the first sawmill.
A plat for the City of Grand Haven was recorded that year, and the settlement of Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, and surrounding townships soon followed. During the next sixty years, acres of once towering white pines were floated down the river and bayous to sawmills and then shipped to lucrative markets throughout the Midwest.
Of special interest to local citizens was the arrival of the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba in December, 1932. The community was saddened when the vessel was sunk during World War II in the North Atlantic. Only two of the 103 crewmen survived. Escanaba Park was established as a memorial to those sailors aboard the Escanaba. Grand Haven was declared “Coast Guard City USA” by Act of Congress in 1998.
by Wallace K. Ewing
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