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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
 
 

Union City Heritage Water Trail Historical Markers

The Union City Historic Water Trail launched on July 3rd, 2016 as part of the Village’s Sesquicentennial Celebration. Twenty eight sites commemorate the Village’s rich river history on a 5 mile stretch of the Coldwater River. This is a boating tour, as many sites are on private property.
 
28. Riley Dam & Trail End Marker image, Click for more information
By Val Rossman, June 23, 2016
28. Riley Dam & Trail End Marker
Michigan (Branch County), Sherwood — 28 — Riley Dam & Trail EndUnion City Heritage Water Trail
George Ackerman, as a UCHS student, noted this spot on the river as a possible location for a dam. He went on to become a civil engineer. Around 1919, rising coal costs forced the village to turn toward hydro and they sought out Ackerman’s Chicago . . . — Map (db m95654) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 27 — "Municipal Pond" Becomes Union Lake
In 1923, when the Riley Dam was built in the St. Joe to create hydro for the village, the 500+ acre backwater was known only as the “Municipal Pond.” There had not been enough time to clear the swampy land before damming, so trees were . . . — Map (db m95243) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 7 — "Union" of the RiversUnion City Heritage Water Trail
At this point the Coldwater and St. Joe Rivers join, creating their namesake “Union” City. In the late 1820s a road surveying party following the Washtenaw Indian Trail that later became M-60 stumbled upon this junction and returned . . . — Map (db m95217) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 20 — Alumni FieldUnion City Heritage Water Trail
In June 1925, 178 members of the Alumni Association gave donations of $970.19 to purchase Davis Field for construction of a track, baseball diamond, tennis courts and football field. In 1926, the land was donated to the school, and on June 14, 1929, . . . — Map (db m95226) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 10 — Caille Richards CompanyUnion City Heritage Water Trail
The Blue Star Veteran’s Park Memorial up and to the left was once the site of one of Union City’s most important industries. Established in 1901, Caille Richards Co. was part of a large international company with headquarters in Detroit and branches . . . — Map (db m95219) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 13 — Chivas & Jack's GroceryUnion City Heritage Water Trail
In August of 1966, Arnold “Jack” and Rosemary Shaffer purchased from Mae and Blanche Miller & Ray Chivas Chivas Grocery, which had stood on this corner for more than 30 years with a barbershop on the 2nd floor. Whitlock Shoes occupied . . . — Map (db m95228) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 4 — Coldwater River & BridgeUnion City Heritage Water Trail
The first wooden bridge was built across the Coldwater River in 1843 with a steel bridge erected about 1895. The current bridge was constructed in the late 1950s. The Coldwater River starts from Coldwater Lake and meanders northwest 29.5 miles . . . — Map (db m95164) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 23 — Elkhorn Lodge: Home of "Skinny" Bullock
Union City ‘s own “Daniel Boone,” Austin “Skinny” Bullock (1908-77), moved into this, his beloved Elkhorn Lodge, on the first day of summer in 1952. He was a colorful local legend who loved to hunt, trap and fish, earning . . . — Map (db m95241) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 9 — First Fire HallUnion City Heritage Water Trail
In 1872, the Village Council made an appropriation of $1500 to purchase the first fire fighting equipment, a hand fire engine hose cart and 500 ft. of hose. The engine was christened “The St. Joseph” and a 43 member volunteer department . . . — Map (db m95218) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 22 — Gerald Davison's Hilltop House
1926 UCHS graduate and creative entrepreneur, Gerald Davison (1908-75) was the founder of Duo Coach Trailer(Marker #12). Upon selling that enterprise, he designed and built many unique Frank Lloyd Wright style homes in Union City and on Sycamore . . . — Map (db m95240) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 21 — Head of St. Joe NavigationUnion City Heritage Water Trail
In the 1800s, Union City was the head to 170 miles of busy commerce on the St. Joe. Large freight barges poled by 8 men as well as steamers carried grain, pork, whiskey, flour, hides, furs, pig iron and other goods manufactured along its banks . . . — Map (db m95227) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 24 — Indigenous Residents
Long before European settlement and Union City, the St. Joe was known by Native Americans as the River of the Miamis. It was an important resource for water, game, fish and transportation. The origin of the St. Joe is found in the lake in Hillsdale . . . — Map (db m95242) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 2 — J.P. Palmer Launch and & Railroad TrestleUnion City Heritage Water Trail
Thanks to late 1800s area artist J.P. Palmer, many local river scenes were preserved in watercolor and oil. Moving here at age 10 from New York, he went on to study at Albion College and the Chicago Art Institute. His paintings were in great demand . . . — Map (db m95653) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 6 — Narrow Gauge Railway to the Cement FactoryUnion City Heritage Water Trail
There was a trestle here for a narrow gauge railway from Turtle Lake, 2 miles to the north, to the cement factory in the SE corner of town for transporting marl. The railway crossed both the St. Joe and Coldwater Rivers. Peerless Portland Cement was . . . — Map (db m95167) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 3 — Randall Dam & Start of MillraceUnion City Heritage Water Trail
Early surveying parties sent out on the Washtenaw trail, which became M-60, took back glowing accounts of the potential for water power at the junction of the two rivers and this quick stretch named the Coldwater Rapids. The first race was . . . — Map (db m95207) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 12 — Riverside Hotel, Duo Coach & UCIUnion City Heritage Water Trail
Built in the early 1870s near the depot on Railroad St., the Riverside Hotel was first known as the Johnson House. It was moved to this location by teams of horses and oxen while rolling on logs. The two long verandas were then added. Before its . . . — Map (db m95221) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 16 — Riverview ParkUnion City Heritage Water Trail
Organized in 1923, The Women’s Tuesday Club was committed to “the promotion of literary, scientific, social and civic pursuits . . .” In 1957, under the leadership of Lillian Schwendener, they began realizing a dream of a . . . — Map (db m95166) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 26 — The Arbogast BridgeUnion City Heritage Water Trail
The Arbogast Bridge is considered the east end of Union Lake. The wetlands surrounding the bridge are significant habitat to many types of birds and waterfowl. Keep your eye peeled for swans, sandhill cranes, loons, cormorants, heron, egrets, geese, . . . — Map (db m95400) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 11 — The Broadway BridgeUnion City Heritage Water Trail
The first Broadway Bridge was constructed of wood in 1835. It was replaced with a steel structure in 1876. One of the largest bridges in Branch Co., it was washed out in the flood of 1908. Many locals who had been observing the floodwaters below . . . — Map (db m95220) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 15 — The Flood of 1908 & Broadway Bridge "Island"Union City Heritage Water Trail
On March 4,1908, heavy rains on top of 24” of snow followed by a thaw caused the rivers to spill over 4” above their highest known levels, submerging large sections of the village. The Broadway Bridge collapsed into the swollen river and . . . — Map (db m95156) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 18 — The French & Trading PostsUnion City Heritage Water Trail
Late in the seventeenth century, early French voyageurs made use of the entire length of the St. Joe in their push westward. The French built forts on the river at St. Joseph (1679) and Niles (1691) as strongholds for the fur trade. A memoir to the . . . — Map (db m95224) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 19 — The Park Street "Spencer" BridgeUnion City Heritage Water Trail
The Park Street Bridge was the second bridge built in Union City and originally wooden. The first steel span was erected in 1905. It was removed and replaced in 1974 with a new bridge at the cost of $141,000. The new bridge was renamed the Spencer . . . — Map (db m95225) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 8 — The St. Joe Tavern & The BucketUnion City Heritage Water Trail
In 1833 just behind this home a livery was first deeded to feed and stable local horses. In 1913 it was known as Bell Livery Stable. In 1937, Mr. Densmore converted the livery to The St. Joe Tavern after moving the bar business from the Riverside . . . — Map (db m95397) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 14 — Titlow House & Parachute FactoryUnion City Heritage Water Trail
The Titlow House was built on this site in 1845, originally containing a store and meat market before the conversion to a hotel in 1867. In 1915, it was razed to make way for Spoore’s Ford Garage. It was subsequently owned by Engle Stanton, . . . — Map (db m95206) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 5 — Union City CreameryUnion City Heritage Water Trail
The Union City Creamery was established in July 1901 as a co-operative enterprise between fifty local farmers and a handful of businessmen on capitol stock of $10,000. In 1902, the model plant managed by Mrs. C. B. Spoor averaged milk receipts . . . — Map (db m95401) HM
Michigan (Branch County), Union City — 17 — Union City Milling and Mill Race OutletUnion City Heritage Water Trail
The small backwater to the left represents the exit of the millrace that was dug diagonally from the Coldwater River and powered saw and grist mills from the first settler in 1834 to 1949 when the 111 year old Randall Mill (below) caught fire. Six . . . — Map (db m95223) HM

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