“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Union City in Branch County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Head of St. Joe Navigation

Union City Heritage Water Trail

21. Head of St. Joe Navigation Marker image. Click for more information.
Photographed By Val Rossman, June 16, 2016
1. 21. Head of St. Joe Navigation Marker
Union City Heritage Water Trail website entry #21
Click for more information.
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 downstream to Lake Michigan and on to Chicago. Return trips were laden with immigrants, goods for stores and “Niles crackers.” In the 1830s, founding fathers focused on Union City becoming a metropolis along a canal proposed to the east through Homer and Jackson connecting the St. Joe all the way to Lake Erie onto the East Coast. Locally $50,000 was appropriated and $10,000 was actually spent on clearing obstructions to improve navigation. However, river commerce gave way to rail, and nothing ever came of the cross-state canal. Union City had nearly lost out as it missed early chances on rail lines built to the north and south before one finally traversed the town.
Erected 2016 by Unon City Heritage Water Trail. (Marker Number 21.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce
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Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Michigan - Union City Heritage Water Trail series list.
Location. 42° 3.93′ N, 85° 8.696′ 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 Park St. Bridge. 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. Gerald Davison's Hilltop House (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); Alumni Field (approx. 0.2 miles away); Elkhorn Lodge: Home of "Skinny" Bullock (approx. ¼ mile away); The Park Street "Spencer" Bridge (approx. 0.3 miles away); Indigenous Residents (approx. 0.3 miles away); Carp Rodeo (approx. 0.4 miles away); The French & Trading Posts (approx. 0.4 miles away); Union City Methodist Episcopal Church (approx. 0.4 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
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 203 times since then and 5 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?

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Jul. 2, 2022