Bay City, Michigan Real Estate, Classified Ads, and Community Calendar Bay City, Michigan Real Estate, Classified Ads, and Community Calendar

About Bay City

Virtual Tour of Bay City

The History of Bay City By Alice Webster-Wood

Bay City was once the camping ground of the Chippewa Indians, later the community began as five separate and distinct villages. It eventually merged into a picturesque riverfront city of historic homes and shops. It is a city loaded with historical items related to Native Americans, lumbering, ship building, archaeology, agriculture, commerce and highlighted with historical architecture from 1830 to 1940. It has the Saginaw River traveling directly through the center of the city, with riverside parks and walkways.
During the shipping season you can frequently see large great lake freighters and pleasure boats traveling on this river. It is situated near the mouth of the Saginaw River, which joins the Saginaw Bay downstream and hence Lake Huron and the Great Lakes Waterway. Bay City is now an important center of tourism, with an abundance of activities and events.

Joseph Trombley
More than 160 years have elapsed since Leon Trombley accepted a federal government assignment and built a small log house on the bank of the Saginaw River. However, Leon made at least one mistake. He turned down an offer to trade a horse for a section of land, which he considered an uninhabitable swamp. Who would have thought that Bay City would some day encompass all of the section offered to Mr. Trombley.

Mader Trombley
In 1835, Trombley's nephews Joseph and Mader built the first frame house in Bay City, which also served as a trading post, thereby qualifying the Trombleys as Bay City's first businessmen. The house has been preserved in a move to Bay City's Veteran's Memorial Park in 1981. It's now being restored and will be the center of a historic village development. This first building, "Center House", was located several miles upstream from the original log cabin on a peninsula of dry land near what is now 24th and Water Streets. In addition to the trading post, the home served as a hotel...providing you had your own bedroll...and it eventually became the headquarters for federal and state licensing.
In 1822, Saginaw County had been established..extending to Saginaw Bay. Court cases for the bay side communities meant a three day journey to Saginaw, so the citizens of the area voted in 1854 to separate from Saginaw County, forming what is today Bay County.

Logging in Bay County
Bay City, nestled in the Saginaw Valley, was in those days surrounded by a fruitful pine forest, and it was the cutting of those pines, and other trees, that crowned the area "Lumber Capitol of the World". The actual year was 1844 in which the lumber industry had its start in Bay County when a mill was constructed at the mouth of the Kawkawlin River. In the following years, lumbering became a boom industry by the time the Sage Mill was erected in 1865. In one period, at the height of the lumbering activity, more than 50 mills were active in the Bay City area.
By 1888, over four billion feet of lumber had been cut, enough to circle the globe with a walkway of two-inch planks, four feet in width. Today Bay City has many stately mansions that lumber barons built in the Historical Districts during the 1880s. Architectural styles from 1830 to 1940 in Bay City's more than 1,000 historical buildings within the city limits are among the best maintained and most varied in the state. It was in 1850 that the salt basin, which underlies the area, was tapped and this too progressed as the lumber business had done.

Early Blacksmith Shop
One of the earliest industries was boat building; an activity that still exists today. During various times Bay City has built a variety of crafts, including U.S. Naval vessels, and yachts that occupy all of the seven seas. The Defoe Shipbuilding Co. founded in 1905 constructed hundreds of steel ships for military and commercial use, ranging from 650-foot Great Lakes ore carriers to guided missile destroyers for the U S and the Royal Australian Navies. In recent years Bay City has become the home of both wind and power boat champions. Les Staudacher of Kawkawlin (a suburb) probably has more gold cup hydroplanes to his credit than any other builder, and the Gougeon Brothers have built many sailboat champions.

Schooner Aberdeen,
Davidson Shipyard, Bay City
Bay City is still one of the top ranked ports on the Great Lakes and handles tremendous tonnage's of commercial seaway shipping. More waterborne tonnage is handled at the Bay City Port area than at any of the 31 other Michigan port cities excluding Detroit. There are a score of terminal facilities along the river banks, and three turning basins provide ample ship maneuverability. Today Bay City is also becoming known nationally for its annual River Roar Boat Races.
Out of this need to diversify came a machine shop which in time began turning out mammoth railroad and industrial cranes that where used the world over.

Bay City Chevy Parts Plan
With the coming of the automobile, a Bay City plant that had been internationally famous for making bicycles changed its production to automobile parts. And today..this factory is an important General Motors Corporation parts facility. Other industries demonstrating Bay City's diversified industrial abilities included power shovels (we built one of the largest in the world), cement, electric furnaces, prefabricated homes, electric welding machines, women's sleepwear, and award winning textile production in the form of lingerie. In recent years, The Dow Chemical Company has come forward to add plastic-lined pipes and Ziploc bags to the honor roll of fine Bay County products.

Arial view of Bay City
Bay County is also rich in agricultural attributes. Sugar beets and beans are the area's main cash crops. One of the local sugar refineries is the largest East of the Mississippi (Monitor Sugar Company). There is also an abundance of produce grown locally with many roadside stands and farmer markets available for purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. Bay City is an ideal community of opportunity, vacationing, and tourism with the facilities of a larger city combined with the convenience of a small town. It demonstrates much history and culture at a relaxed pace and low cost in an atmosphere of friendly goodwill.
Our thanks to Jeremy Kilar and Ronald Bloomfield for providing the photos from their recent pictorial history of Bay City; "Bay City Logbook, An Illustrated History". Copies of their wonderful book are available from the sponsor;Citizens Bank(517-894-6720)at a reduced price of $26.45 each.
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