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This Is Lumbertown
The settlement of the Muskegon area began in earnest in 1837 with the formal organization of Muskegon Township in Ottawa County. Henry Pennoyer was one of the first settlers and was elected in 1838 as the Township Supervisor. The period of Muskegon’s settlement was central to the beginning of the lumber industry in West Michigan and Muskegon became a true ‘lumber town’ thanks to the area’s extensive timber resources, including a vast and seemingly inexhaustible acreage of White Pine. As pioneers poured into Michigan and the Midwest, lumber was needed to build homes and businesses and the timber of the White Pine was ideally suited for building. This towering conifer grows to a height of up to 80’ and was so abundant in our Great Lakes State that it became Michigan’s State Tree. By 1869, Michigan had become the #1 lumber producing state in the country, and held that position of pre-eminence for 30 years until 1900 - and Muskegon was at the heart of that success. This legendary lumbering era proved to be an important period in Michigan’s history. Many fortunes were made by the timber barons, and the immense wealth that was produced during this era contributed to the extraordinary rise of Michigan’s industrial and financial greatness. One of the biggest reasons for Michigan’s success in the lumber industry was that the state’s many rivers, including the mighty Muskegon River, flowed from the remote timberwoods all the way to the Great Lakes. From those shores, timber could be shipped practically anywhere. These rivers provided a natural and effective means of transporting logs quickly to the mills where they could be cut and transformed into building lumber. Along with the great rivers in Michigan, the many lakes, oxbows, bays, and sloughs were perfectly suited as holding areas for the cut timber that was waiting to be milled. At one time during this period, the Muskegon River carried more pine logs to market than any other stream or river in the entire world.