Saline History


Before any white man settled in what is now known as Saline, Native Americans settled the town. Using different trails to get here or even canoeing Lake Erie, they knew this land was rich in wildlife and in salt. They would gather salt and use it both in their trading and for domestic use. French explorers would then name the river running through the village the Saline River. This would later extend to the village creating the town we now know as Saline. Pronounced “Suh-Leen”, contrary to many that pronounce it “Say-leen”, it is a word of Latin origin meaning Salty water or a salty solution (


orange risdon


Born in 1786 in Virginia, Orange Risdon (pictured above), would come to Michigan in the 1820s in order to survey some of the main roads that are still in use today. In 1824, Risdon bought 160 acres in what we know now as Saline, Michigan. That same year a road from Detroit to Pontiac was surveyed under his direction. A year later in 1825, the great military road from Detroit to Chicago was to be surveyed. The U.S Government appointed Risdon as the chief surveyor. The two roads he surveyed still exist today and are considered very important; they are Woodward Avenue and Michigan Avenue. Risdon would eventually die in Saline in 1876 and is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery that is overlooking the road that he surveyed—Michigan Avenue. Although he was not the first to live or inhabit the area of Saline, Risdon is given credit of the founding of the town. The map pictured below is the map of Southeast Michigan that Risdon drew. “It is the first map of Michigan that shows serious surveying and settlement,” (Shackman).

orange risdon map


Below is a brief video of the history of Saline done by the youtube channel “Michiganhistory”.


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