Detroit And Mackinac
( Originally Published 1900 )
Detroit means " the strait," and the original Indian names for the river mean " the place of the turned channel." The early visitors who reached it by boat at night or in dark weather, and were inattentive to the involved currents, always remarked, as the Indians did before them, that owing to these extraordinary involutions of the waters, when the sun appeared again it always seemed to rise in the wrong place. The French under La Salle were the first Europeans who passed through the river, and in 1701 the Sieur de Ia Mothe Cadillac, who received grants from Louis XIV., came and founded Fort Pontchartrain there, ranting it after the French Minister of Marine, around which a settlement afterwards grew, to which the French sent colonists at intervals. The British got possession in 1760, and it successfully resisted the conspiracy and attacks of the Ojibway Indian thief Pontiac for over a year, the garrison narrowly escaping massacre. The United States, after the Revolution, sent out General St. Clair as Governor, and his name was given the lake to the northward. Detroit was a frontier post in the War of 1812, being alternately held by British and Americans. In 1824 it had about fifteen hundred people and became a city. It now has three hundred and fifty thousand population, and its commercial importance may he estimated from the fact that the whop enormous traffic of the Lakes passes in front of the city during the seven months that navigation is open, the procession of craft often reaching sixty thousand vessels in the season. Detroit also has extensive and varied manufactures. It has a gradually rising surface and broad and well-paved streets on a rectangular plan, with several avenues radiating from a centre, like the spokes of a wheel. The central square is the Campus Martins, an expansion, °about a half-mile from the river, of Woodward Avenue, the chief street. Here is an elaborate City Hall, the principal public building, having in front a magnificent Soldiers' Monument. The suburbs are attractive, and there are various pleasant parks and rural cemeteries, the leading Park of Belle Isle, covering seven hundred acres, being to the northeastward, with a good view over Lake St. Clair. Fort Wayne, the elaborate defensive work of Detroit, is on the river just below the city, and has a small garrison of regular troops. It is yet incomplete, and is designed to be the most extensive fortification on the northern frontier, commanding the important passage between Lakes Huron and Erie and the railway routes east and west.
The peninsula of Michigan was originally covered with the finest forests, so that lumbering has always been a leading industry of the people. The greater portion of its pine woods, however, has been cut off, so that that branch is declining; but its ample supply of hard woods has made the State a great manufacturer of furniture, which is shipped all over the country. Thirty-eight miles west of Detroit, on the Huron River, is the city of Ann Arbor, with a population of fifteen thousand. Here are the extensive buildings of the University of Michigan, the leading educational establishment of the northwest, attended by over three thousand students, of whom a large number are young women. It is richly endowed, and has departments of law and medicine, as well as of literature and science, a large library and an observatory. The State makes a liberal annual contribution for its support, raised by taxation, it being governed by eight regents elected by the people. At the northern extremity of the Michigan Peninsula is the Strait of Mackinac, through which Lake Michigan empties into Lake Huron. This water way is about four miles wide. In the strait is Mackinac Island, about nine miles in circumference, which was early held by the French on account of its strategic importance, but, being taken by the English in 1760, was captured by Pontiac when he organized the Indian revolt against the British in 1763, and all its inhabitants massacred. It is now a military post and reservation of the United States. This rocky and wooded island contains much picturesque scenery, and is a favorite summer resort, its weird legends, fresh breezes, good fishing and clear waters being the attraction. It was an early post of the north-western fur-traders, and here was founded one of the frontier trading-stations of the Astor Fur Company in the early nineteenth century by John Jacob Astor of New York, the building in the little village being still known as the Astor House.