Union City in Branch County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
The French & Trading Posts
Union 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 French Govt. in 1718 described the St. Joe Valley: “Tis a spot the best adapted of any to be seen for purposes of living. It is the richest district in all the country.” There was a French trading post established near this spot in Union City. The proprietor did a brisk business exchanging calico, blankets, guns, powder and brandy for fur with the large number of Native Americans in the area. It is unclear how long it lasted, but after its abandonment there was an extended period of time when no settlers came into the vicinity. The first settler in the area, John Clawson, from Lagrange County, Indiana, established a small trading post near the same spot and began to barter with the Native Americans. Even though he was successful, he did not remain here long.
Erected by Union City Heritage Water Trail. (Marker Number 18.)
Topics and series. This Colonial Era • Exploration • Industry & Commerce • Native Americans. In addition, it is included in the Michigan - Union City Heritage Water Trail series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1718.
Location. 42° 3.905′ N, 85° 8.212′ W. Marker is in Union City, Michigan, in Branch County. This marker is on private property please do not attempt to access it by trespassing on foot. It is meant to be viewed by paddling the St. Joseph River as part of the Union City Heritage Water Trail. It is on the north bank of the river a few hundred yards west of the Broadway Bridge in the south end of the Union City business district. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Union City MI 49094, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Union City Milling and Mill Race Outlet (within shouting distance of this marker); The Flood of 1908 & Broadway Bridge "Island" (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Riverview Park (about 500 feet away); Titlow House & Parachute Factory (about 500 feet away); The Park Street "Spencer" Bridge (about 600 feet away); Union City Methodist Episcopal Church (about 700 feet away); Chivas & Jack's Grocery (about 800 feet away); Caille Richards Company (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Union City.
More about this marker. There are 28 of these markers comprising the Union City Heritage Water Trail on the Coldwater River and the St. Joseph River launched in 2016 for the village's Sesquicentennial. These markers can be viewed by paddling the 5 mile stretch of river from the JP Palmer Launch in the Village of Union City to the Riley Dam on the SW Corner of Union Lake. Most of these markers CANNOT by accessed by foot as they are on private property along the river. Please do not trespass. More details can be found at www.uchwt.com
Credits. This page was last revised on April 9, 2022. It was originally submitted on June 16, 2016, by Val Rossman of Union City, Michigan. This page has been viewed 403 times since then and 101 times this year. Photo 1. submitted on June 16, 2016, by Val Rossman of Union City, Michigan. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. View of marker in context • Can you help?