The fur trading era, 1810 thru the late 1830's, was followed by a booming lumbering era from the late 1830's until 1900. The first sawmill construction, built by Benjamin H. Wheelock, began in 1837 on Muskegon Lake with operations commencing in 1838 and by the 1870s 26 mills were in operation .
Fire was a major problem for the area with wooden buildings, white pine lumber and huge saw dust piles. A fire in 1874, destroying a quarter of the business district and 200 homes, triggered Muskegon to established a professional fire department which it had debated since 1871. Two more devastating fires occurred in Muskegon, the first being in March, 1887, destroying many buildings on Pine Street at Webster. The fire of May 16, 1891, known as the Pine Street fire, destroyed 17 city blocks and 250 buildings including the original court house.
AND JUST A FEW HEADLINES
FROM THE PAST:
...October 22, 1859 - Supervisors authorize purchase of shackles and three pairs of handcuffs for sheriff.
...August 24, 1860 - Federal census shows Muskegon township with population of 1,442.
...May 3, 1861 - Muskegon Rangers (military company of 100 volunteers) left for Washington for service in the Civil War.
A few days later they were in their first combat at Bull Run.
...June 20, 1862 - Village authorities designated the bell of the Methodist Church as the village's official fire alarm signal.
...April 14, 1865 - Muskegon mourns death of President Lincoln.
...June 9, 1869 - 400 men engaged in clearing right of way for railroad between Muskegon and Ferrysburg.
...July 31, 1874 - Fire destroys business area, destroying 12 square blocks, one fourth of city.
...March 31, 1876 - Hackley Mill shipped 300,000 feet of lumber to Liverpool, England.
...January 15, 1880 - Police crack down on drivers who race their horses on Terrace Street.
...June 20, 1883 - Electric lights used here for first time.
...May 30, 1884 - City passes ordinance prohibiting cows, horses, mules and swine from running at large.
...November 10, 1886 - Great storm on Lake Michigan beaches Schooner South Haven at Bluffton. Schooner Helen is washed ashore near mouth of Muskegon Harbor with all hands lost. Schooner Conway cast ashore at Whitehall with all lost.
...May 16, 1891 - Great Pine Street Fire.
...May 23, 1898 - Muskegon Rifles musteres into federal service as Co. C, 34th Michigan Volunteers, for duty in Spanish American War.
...February 13, 1907 - First crane for Panama Canal completed at Muskegon Heights' Shaw Electric Crane Co.
...May 15, 1908 - All dogs ordered muzzled within city limits.
...November 1, 1909 - Thomas Hume donates Home for the Aged at Southern and Lakeshore Dr.
...January 6, 1916 - High school closed because of smallpox.
...April 6, 1917 - President Wilson proclaims war against Germany.
...July 20, 1918 - Ringling Bros. Circus, showing here, raided for draft dodgers.
...September 8, 1918 - Sunday joyriding is banned.
...November 11, 1918 - City dances in the streets as war ends.
...January 5, 1922 - Factory employment increases 75 per cent.
...July 27, 1925 - First Greyhound bus service begins between Muskegon and Chicago.
Photos from the American Memory Collection from the Library of Congress: