Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Capsule History of Three Rivers

Historical marker downtown gives a quick historical rundown:

"THREE RIVERS Here the Rocky and Portage rivers join the winding St. Joseph River. Many centuries before the coming of the white man the junction of these water routes made this a favorite camping site for Indians. La Salle came through the region in 1680 on his way east, and in his wake came other Frenchmen who traded with the Indians. Three Rivers, founded in the 1830s, was as far as large boats could come up the St. Joseph. Flatboats and rafts were used to carry goods to and from Lake Michigan."
"Michigan Historical Commission registered site No. 150"

In 1654 a Frenchman, Medard Chouart Des Groseilliers, traveled the whole length of the St. Joseph River. It is known that Miami peoples lived along the St. Joseph River in the 1600s, but were pushed out by Iroquois fur traders. Potawatomi moved into the area in the late 1600s. The confluence of the three major area rivers made it an ideal trading place in the days when travel was done mainly by canoe. More on the Friends of the St. Joseph River Association website.

The flatboat era ran from around 1830 to 1844; the large barges, called arks, carried freight one way. They were dismantled when they reached Lake Michigan. Flatboats were superseded by steamboats, and the railroad came to Three Rivers about 1865.