The Grand River Times, July, 1851
Grand Haven Description
GRAND HAVEN.—Its position, resources, trade, commerce, manu-factures and relative importance as the principle outlet of the products of Michigan, north of the Central Railroad.
Messrs., BARNES & ANGEL,—Your praiseworthy enterprise manifested in the appearance of the "Times" as the exponent of the affairs and progress of the Grand River valley, is hailed with the best wishes for your success, by all who feel an interest in the prosperity of this ultimate thule of the Peninsular State. It is the peculiar province of the newspaper press, to send abroad a knowledge of the place from which it emanates, and from the facts and statistics it publishes, a correct idea is gained by strangers of its importance as a constituent party of the body politic. This is done in various ways by means of the journals of the present day—but not so fully as desirable by those who expect that such journals will be as it were a map of the country or village it represents. In most of the country papers, all the information given of the place, is to be gleaned from the advertisements and the "Business Directory," without which it might as well be issued from the moon, as from any sublunary spot, so far as any idea can be formed of the locality it hails from. Thus premising what I have to say about Grand Haven, I hasten to introduce our village and its environs to your readers far and near, to many of whom such an out of the way place perchance, "was never dreamed of in their philosophy."
Grand Haven—the county seat of Ottawa County, Mich., 213 miles West by North from Detroit, is situated on the South bank of Grand River, half a mile from its entrance to Lake Michigan between which and the Lake are sand hills 200 feet in height. Its harbor (the best on this side of the Lake,) could be made by the construction of piers superior to any of the upper Lakes, and with such an improvement by the general government, would be open to the interior of the State by rail and plank roads to the Rapids, a channel for the outlet of a vast amount of produce, the staples of a soil abounding in agricultural and mineral wealth, and the inlet of the products of the world abroad.—At the present writing there is from ten to thirty feet depth of water in the channel, which is indicated by lights and guides established at the mouth of the river. For the benefit of transient vessels drawing more than eight feet, it may be well to state here that the inner and outer bars extend from north to south past the lines of the ranges, preventing a straight passage out—but the buoy north of the outside bar is placed a little north of the range lights, in thirteen feet of water ; by keeping in range over the outside bar there is 8˝ feet, and inside of it there is not less than ten feet in range.
Grand Haven contains a Court House which is used also as a Church, a Jail, a School House with spacious rooms above and below, with a cupola and bell, a beautiful edifice which costs nearly two thousand dollars, and accommodates over one hundred scholars pursuing the various branches of education, under accomplished teachers, open to all classes of youth, including the penniless as well as the rich. There are three large public houses, well sustained, one of which, the Washington, is three stories high with a Hall in the attic, occupied by the Odd Fellows. There are five stores, three forwarding houses, two shops, several groceries, a large tannery, tailor shop, blacksmith and carpenter shops and several fisheries.
The principal business of the place is the manufacture and shipment of lumber. The number of steam and and water mills for that purpose within the range of the navigation here, and in this part of the county is fourteen, five only of which are water mills, the remainder mostly double steam mills, which make an average of 20,000 feet in 24 hours. The quantities of lumber shipped form this port this season will amount to nearly or quite 30,000,000 feet besides a proportionate amount of shingles, shingle-bolts, lath, wood, cedar posts, bark &c, &c. Heavy shipments of wheat, flour and plaster, have been made this season, and a large amount of merchandise received for this place and the various places in Ottawa, Kent and Ionia. On the river two steamers ply between this place and Grand Rapids, and one connects above to Ionia—making about eighty miles inland navigation towards Lansing the Capital of the State, from which a plank road is nearly completed to Detroit and is to be extended west to Ionia and Grand Rapids. Stock is now being taken at Kalamazoo for a plank road to Grand Rapids, which improvements will facilitate travel from the East to Milwaukie, by way of Grand Haven. Propellors from Buffalo touch here semimonthly en route for Chicago, and a fleet of about twenty sail take nearly a million feet of lumber a week to Chicago and other ports. The pure and healthful breezes from the Lake dissipates the miasma of the marshes and renders the occupation of our two physicians one of considerable leisure. There are no Lawyers here, and a good one would find employment in this and the other counties North. The population of the county is 6,490, embracing the Holland Colony, twenty miles south of the county seat, on Black River, another good harbor when improved by the government. The population of this village and Mill Point is about 1000.
I have hastily glanced at the present condition of Grand Haven as respects its present business and improvements. Its origin, history and future prospects may be the theme of another article from your correspondent, if time and opportunity will permit.