City History

The area was originally occupied by members of the Potawatomi tribe, who were foricibly removed from the land as a consequnce of the Indian Removal Act (adopted by the federal government in 1830).

The origins of the City of Eaton Rapids go back to 1837, when it was founded.  It was organized in 1859 and incorporated as a village in 1871.

In 1881, the Village of Eaton Rapids was ready for a big change.  The January 1, 1881, Eaton Rapids Journal stated that “Eaton Rapids is Tired of the Appelation ‘Village’ and Signs for a City Charter.”  So it came to pass that, in 1881, with a proposal to the State Legislature, Eaton Rapids became incorporated and chartered as a City.

In the 1880’s, Eaton Rapids was a thriving community.  The water power furnished by the Grand River ran grist, woolen, and lumber mills.  The subterranean water tables were of superb mineral quality and gave rise to numerous artisan wells.  Because of these wells, Eaton Rapids became known as the “Saratoga of the West.”  There were 16 daily trains that brought health seekers to Eaton Rapids for the magnetic mineral water and bath houses.

Eaton Rapids was once considered as a site for the State’s Capitol and was also temporarily home to the 13th Michigan Governor, Austin Blair.

“The Only Eaton Rapids on Earth” is located on the Grand River, and its business district is located on an island in the middle of the river–with bridges to the north, south, east and west.  Thus, often referred to as the “Island City,” it is known for it’s picturesque river views.  Behind the business district, on the east side, is another island called Grand Army Republic Park.   The City could have easily been called the “City of Bridges,” as, at one time, it had 14 bridges to maintain.  Today, the City has six vehicle bridges and three foot bridges.

Today, Eaton Rapids offers high quality living with unique entertainment and recreation opportunities.  Within a 45-minute radius, you can find abundant shopping, fine dining, vibrant nightlife, theater and cultural activities, as well as collegiate, minor-league and Michigan International Speedway sporting events.

Many regional outdoor recreational opportunities are also available, including lakes, golf courses, public parks, beaches and mini-amusement parks.  Eaton Rapids is ideally located in mid-Michigan offering small town charm with big city benefits.

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