Port Huron: Settlement & Growth

Fort Gratiot, and Michigan's first lighthouse

Fort Gratiot, and Michigan’s first lighthouse

Port Huron is located in St. Clair County on the mouth of the Black River entering the St. Clair River, and flowing into Lake Huron. It was first explored by Daniel Greysolon Deluth who established Fort St. Joseph near present day Port Huron in 1686. The Fort was short lived and wasn’t settled again until 1790 by a French Canadian named Denis Causlet, who settled a farm twelve miles north of the Black River. The settlement was called La Riviera Delude after the Black River, and was noted by French surveyor Jewett for having poor sandy soil. (A.T. Andreas, 494) After the war of 1812 French inhabitants returned to their settlement, and the United States government constructed Ft. Gratiot in the nearby region. In 1823 a lighthouse was constructed at Ft. Gratiot, and was the first lighthouse built in Michigan. (Port Huron Museum) Other improvements such as roadways between the Fort and Detroit brought easier access to the region. By 1832 the settlement had 15 buildings, including a productive mill, and developed a reputation for being a lumber and fishing town. In 1839 when the Ojibiwa tribe sold the last of their lands and left, more immigrants moved into the region. On April 8th 1857 a charter for the area was received and the town of Port Huron was created. During the Civil War era, Port Huron was largely involved in the Underground Railroad as a final stop before the Canadian border. Perhaps its most significant historical achievement was becoming the world’s first international railroad tunnel between Port Huron and Canada.(Port Huron Museum)