The Saginaw Lumber Boom (1850-1894)

The Michigan Lumber boom began in the 1830s when sawmills began popping up in the Saginaw area. Saginaw was an ideal place to begin the lumbering of Michigan. Saginaw had more than three million acres of white pine forests. In addition they had a complex river network of more that 1,500 miles of navigable streams and rivers. The Saginaw River itself totaled a length of 864 miles. In 1882 Saginaw hit it’s peak in the Lumber Era with 1,001,274,905 boardfeet of timber cut in mills along the Saginaw River.

During this time Saginaw experienced a growth that it had never come close to before. In 1850 Saginaw had a population of only 2,609 people. After hitting its Lumber Era peak in 1882 people began flocking to Saginaw. The census of 1884 recorded that 75,813 people were living in Saginaw. This is about a 2,906% increase in population in only 34 years. During this time Saginaw had its first high school. In 1863 Central School on Court street opened their doors. The following year the first bridge across the Saginaw River, the Genesee Bridge, was completed. Riverside Park opens on Green Point in 1894. Riverside Park will have roller coasters, pavilion dancing, balloon ascensions, and merry-go-rounds. None of Riverside Park remains now. All of this growth for the Saginaw area was made possible by the wealth that was brought in from the Michigan Lumber boom.


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