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History of Croswell

The Lumber Industry

1845--It was the tall, white pine timbers that brought the first settlers to the Croswell area. The Black River made it possible for millions of feet of timber to be transported from Sanilac and Huron Counties to the bend in the river near the spot later called Goat Island. Since Croswell was located only five miles from Lexington, ships were used to haul the lumber to markets. Ephraim Pierce began the erection of a sawmill at the riverbend in 1845. It was finished in 1847 by Randall Davis who had become a partner with Pierce.

1861--The first little settlement to develop here was called Black River, but was renamed Davisville in 1861 in honor of Mr. Davis.

The Railroad

1879--Lumbering was the main occupation in the area until the late 1870s when it ended as a result of the Great Fire of 1881. Because of the Great Fire, lumber barons, Moss, Mills, and Gaige then had thousands of acres of land to sell. They reasoned that railroad transportation would bring in new settlers. To bring the railroad to the area, William Mills subscribed $20,000 and 12 acres of land on the east side of the river. The first train of Port Huron and the Northwest arrived here on May 12, 1879. The east bank of the river adopted the name Croswell, in honor of Michigan governor Charles M. Croswell. The railroad brought hundreds of settlers who began farming and soon carloads of farm produce were being shipped.

Croswell Grows--Water Plant and Light Company

1895-1896--Croswell grew fast and soon developed into the most progressive in the county. By 1895, the city had its own water plant with pipes servicing Howard Ave. businesses and fire hydrants around the business area. In 1896, the Croswell Electric Light Company was organized.

The Sugar Factory

1902--At the turn of the century, Croswell was one of the leading trading, industrial, and shipping centers in the Thumb. It was in 1902 that Croswell's leading industry finished its plant and brought the sugar beet industry to the area. The sugar plant also brought unbelievable progress to the town. The factory encouraged the building of good roads since farmers were in need of them. The sugar factory also helped finance roads leading into town and the taxes the industry paid were used to pave the main streets within the city limits. Croswell had the first paved or "bricked" streets in the Thumb.

1905--Another first and only for Croswell is the Swinging Bridge. It was completed in 1905 to give quick and easy access to Riverbend Park. Yet even today almost every visitor to Croswell takes a stroll across the only suspension bridge in Michigan.






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