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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Shipyard Forge

Shipyard Forge

GRHC - April 18th, 2012

The shipyard forge, located where the Amway Grand Plaza stands today, was the site of the boatyard where boats were built that ran on the Grand River.



In Yesterdays of Grand Rapids Charles Belknap recalled, “We came to Michigan in the early 1850s because the government had given my grandfather a quarter-section of timber land, a reward for his services in the War of 1812. Father came to do the ironwork on the boats being built in the shipyard located where the Pantlind Hotel now stands. (today’s Amway Grand Plaza).

By stagecoach, river, canal, lake and railroad we arrived in Chicago, then known to the Indians as Chi-cog—meaning “skunk water”. Leaving this rightly named place, we secured passage on a lumber schooner for Grand Haven, sleeping on the deck without blankets; then by steamer to Grand Rapids.

When the smithshop was in order and the fires glowing the Indians began to come in for gun repairs. The first work my father did for one of them was a fish spear. With a nod of approval he stepped into his canoe, went away up the rapids, and soon returned with a sturgeon with which he paid his bill.

The first business south of the shipyard was Bentham’s Restaurant, then Daniel Ball’s bank, and beyond the tangle of streets later known as Grab Corners. North were sawmills, livery stables and Butterworth’s foundry. Canal Street north was a streak of black mud. On foggy days the worn-out corduroy road looked like alligators.

The shipyard forge soon became the roosting place for loafers, traders, politicians, scandal peddlers, and would-be statesmen.”

Full Details

TitleShipyard Forge
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; Grand River; boats; forge
Pubdate StringApril 18th, 2012

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