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

Grand Rapids in Kent County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Log Jam of 1883

 
 
Log Jam of 1883 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 27, 2017
1. Log Jam of 1883 Marker
Inscription.  One of the most devastating events in Grand Rapids’ history occurred on the morning of July 26, 1883. Two weeks of record-setting rains had raised the Grand River to flood stage. When lumbermen tried to take advantage of the high water to float their logs downstream, a tremendous seven-mile log jam was created above the Grand Trunk Railroad Bridge, two miles north of downtown. On the morning of July 26, the jam broke loose. Over 600,000 logs rushed downriver, tearing out every railroad bridge in the city as they went.

For two hours residents watched helplessly as the logs roared by. For a time it was feared the entire mass would flow all the way to Lake Michigan, but heroic lumberjacks at Grand Haven built booms strong enough to stop the logs short of the open water.

Fortunately, no lives were lost, but timber losses and property damages were estimated at over $500,000. In addition to the railroad bridges, many street and pedestrian bridges were damaged, disrupting transportation for several months.

Within a few years of the log jam, the heyday of the Grand River lumbering industry was over.
 
Erected
Marker detail: Logs Rushing Past Pearl Street<br>July 26, 1883 image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Logs Rushing Past Pearl Street
July 26, 1883
1988 by The Junior League of Grand Rapids.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Bridges & ViaductsDisastersIndustry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels.
 
Location. 42° 57.994′ N, 85° 40.467′ W. Marker is in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in Kent County. Marker can be reached from Pearl Street Northwest 0.1 miles west of Monroe Avenue Northwest, on the right when traveling west. Marker is mounted at knee-level near the northeast corner of the Pearl Street Bridge. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 250 Pearl Street Northwest, Grand Rapids MI 49503, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Grand River Bridges (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Gerald R. Ford (approx. 0.2 miles away); Final Resting Place of Gerald R. Ford (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Grand River (approx. ¼ mile away); Great Flood of 1904 (approx. ¼ mile away); Kent County Civil War Monument & Fountain (approx. 0.4 miles away); Grand Rapids Veterans Memorial and Honor Roll (approx. 0.4 miles away); First (Park) Congregational Church (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Grand Rapids.
 
Also see . . .
1. Log Jam. 150 million board feet of timber rushed downriver toward Lake Michigan, until it created one of the
Log Jam of 1883 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 27, 2017
3. Log Jam of 1883 Marker
(looking west along north edge of Pearl Street Bridge)
largest log jams in U.S. logging history. For four days and nights, brave loggers worked tirelessly under treacherous conditions to try and free the thirty foot deep and seven mile long pile up. Working feverishly to free the lumber, loggers were finally able to bring the episode to a close with the dredging of a thirty five foot channel that relieved some of the pressure, allowing the timber to come free and float safely downriver. (Submitted on July 21, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Grand Jam of 1883. July 26: The Detroit, Grand Haven and Milwaukee Railroad Bridge collapses from the pressure of logs, causing thousands of logs to rush underneath the Leonard Street, Bridge Street and Peal Street bridges. The Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad bridge and the C&M bridge are destroyed. (Submitted on July 21, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Pearl Street Bridge image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 27, 2017
4. Pearl Street Bridge
(north-side view from near marker)
Grand River and north side of Pearl Street Bridge image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 27, 2017
5. Grand River and north side of Pearl Street Bridge
(marker is mounted behind left/east-side bridge abutment)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 21, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 21, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 81 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 21, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Mar. 8, 2021