Escanaba Township is one of 14 Townships in Delta County and 1242 in the State of Michigan. It was one of the Two original land divisions in the south central Upper Peninsula in 1862. The Township boundary at that time extended from Rapid River on the east all the way to where the City of Menominee is now. the other Township was Nahma which extended from Rapid River on its west side to a point east of where the City of Manistique currently is located. In 1863 the area known as Delta County (Delta is a greek word meaning triangle) was divided into several smaller jurisdictions, leaving the Township of Escanaba at its current size of 61 square miles of land mass. The populations of the township actually decreased at one point as a result of all these divisions, but has steadily increased since the late 1800’s. The 2000 census report showed 3587 people living in the Township.
The Word Escanaba comes from an Indian word meaning ” Flat Rock”, which the bottom of the Escanaba river is made of. The original area called Flat Rock was located where the paper mill and Pioneer Trail Park are now located. The first post office in the area was at Flat Rock (est 1852 and the post master was Alden Chandler who later drowned in the river at a spot called Chandler Falls, where one of the power company dams is now located. Mail was also delivered by hired runners who traveled by foot and dog sled from Menominee to Marquette via Flat Rock, where they would stop at the Durancean boarding house and saloon. This boarding house was located about a mile north of the paper mill where county roads 426 and 416 intersect and was the site of the first telephone in Escanaba Township.It was also a popular place for most people to stop on their way from Escanaba to Gladstone in the late 1800’s as there was no road where the current highway is located along the bay.
This photo would have been taken in the morning as the saloon was located on the west side of County Road 426. Once the travelers reached the river they had to cross a wood bridge built in the late 1800’s until a 1955 when a new steel bridge with a laminated deck and asphalt surface was constructed
The highway from Escanaba to Gladstone through Escanaba Township was not built until the early 1900’s and hard surfaced in the 1920’s. Thia photo was taken in 1918 looking north with the bluff and no tracks for the street cars that ran between Escanaba and Gladstone.
As timber became more scarce along the river people began to move farther into the outlying areas and take up farming. In 1877 an Agricultural society was organized, which consisted of several members from the Flat Rock area, and they held a fair the following year to show off their produce. In 1927 the MIchigan Legislature established the UP State Fair to serve the agricultural, educational, and commercial interests of the region One of the largest farms in the area in the late 1800’s was that of Peter Groos, from which Groos Hill area was named. Peter’s son John Otto, who was injured in a saw mill accident, and grandsons Louis and Harold all became doctors and practiced in the Escanaba Area for many years.
Escanaba Township has been the site of two different airports through the years. During the depression about 1930 the area of the Bluff Golf Course was cleared to create the Whitney Air Feild. It never acutally became an airport but the golf course maintenance garage is a remnet of the air feild. The other airport is located just north of Carroll’s Corner and was built by long time plane enthusiast John Thorin. The gravel airstrip is still used by locals and is an emergency landing field.
Escanaba Township has been considered a bedroom community for many years as there is no industry (except for some sizable gravel operations ) and only about a dozen commercial establishments. The Township does boast about its many well kept neighborhoods which include many platted subdivisions dating back to 1950. The Lake Bluff area consists of twelve separate subdivisions which contain over four hundred single family homes, as well as the Bluff County Club. the first home in the Bluff area was built in 1970. A picture of the golf course (18 hole) clubhouse is shown below.