Founding of Midland

The area now known as Midland was originally settled by Chippewa Native Americans. Until the mid 19th century, the riverbank of the Tittabawassee river, now adjacent to downtown Midland, was lined with Chippewa wickiups, round huts made of bent saplings, skins, and bark. In 1819, the Treaty of Saginaw ceded over six million acres of the Great Lakes Bay Region to the government (6,000 acres in what is now Midland and Isabella counties were retained by the Chippewa Tribe). Named for its central location in the Lower Peninsula, Midland was established as a trading post for the American Fur Company, supervised by the post at Saginaw. Midland County boundaries were set in 1831, with the official county organization occurring in 1850.

Midland Saw Mill
Midland Saw Mill in 1872

Following the fur traders, settlers moving to the region were farmers and loggers. In the mid 19th century, the second largest sawmill in the Saginaw Valley was located in Michigan. What is now Main Street began as a series of businesses along a dirt road originally constructed to help move logs to the river. In 1874, the Pere Marquette Railroad connected Midland to the rest of the state, starting a population and business boom in the city, which was incorporated in 1887.

The Midland stop on the Marquette Railroad
The Midland stop on the Marquette Railroad