Grand Ledge, Michigan

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Grand Ledge is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. The city lies mostly within Eaton County, though a small portion extends into Clinton County, and sits above the Grand River 12.7 miles (20.4 kilometers) directly west of downtown Lansing. The population was 7,813 at the 2000 census. The city is well-known for, and named for, its 300-million-year-old, sandstone and quartzite rock ledges that rise 60 feet (18 m) above the Grand River and are used by recreational rock climbers.

Contents

History

Indian Settlement

Indians who lived in the vicinity of the Grand River near the ledges were of Pottawatomi, Chippewa, and Ottawa ancestry. They dug clams in the river, mined coal on the river banks, and hunted for boar, deer, turkey, fox, and bear. They also fished for black bass. Their name for the ledges translated into English as "Big Rocks".

White Settlement

Based on early records Hugh Howard was the first white man to explore this area by river and record his findings. His journal describes the sandstone ledges as having high banks, some pine trees and heavy woods with the finest places possible for making syrup and several small islands. In 1847 Henry Trench settled in what would later become downtown Grand Ledge. However, after a few years he returned east. In 1850 settlers named their village Grand Ledge and erected a Post Office. By 1869 a railroad is reaches to the north end of the village and in 1871 the village is incorporated by the state of Michigan.

Resort Era

The 1870s saw the rise of Grand Ledge as a Michigan resort destination. Following the arrival of the railroad, John Burtch founded the Seven Islands Resort in 1872. The resort opened with the Dolly Varden steamer and a small boarding house on Second Island. Several mineral wells were also drilled and a local physician expounded on the medicinal qualities of the water. In 1877 S.M. Hewings purchased the Seven Islands Resort and the following year built the Island House Hotel on Second Island. In 1880 Julian Scott Mudge purchased the Seven Islands Resort. To minimize the flood damage from the Grand River, Mudge built a new dam in 1887. In 1888 the Railroad Trestle or High Bridge was built to bring the railroad south of the river and Grand Ledge became the second city in Michigan, after Lansing, to get electric lights. By that time an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 visitors come to the Seven Islands Resort each year.

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