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Midland History, Michigan

Midland and its adjoining regions including Grand Rapids were originally inhabited by different Native Indian tribes; besides Chippewa Indians, who were here for about 120 years, other resident tribes included Ottawa and Potawatomi. Although the Europeans knew about the region pretty long, the first permanent settlers arrived only in 1831.

History of Midland – Fur and Lumber Trade

The early settlers engaged in fur and lumber trades. Seeing the region’s (in fact, of the entire Saginaw Valley’s) immense biological wealth – both flora and fauna – they set up trading posts here. A number of sawmills were also started by them. As more people moved into this part of Michigan looking for employment, it became a thriving community. The going-ons led to the formation of Midland County in 1850. (Of course, Midland County formed then was larger than the present Midland County as it included portions of other later organized counties).

Although the fur-trade had nearly died by 1867, Midland County was marching ahead on the path of progress because of its booming lumber trade, which reached its peak in the 1880s.

History of Midland – Incorporation of the City and Other Important Happenings

Midland was incorporated as a city in 1887. This coincided with the foundation of The Dow Chemical Company. The Dow Chemical Company not only helped ease much of the trouble that Midland would otherwise have faced because of the waning importance of lumber trade, it placed Midland in the league of America’s leading cities like Ney York, Bay City etc.

The founder of The Dow Chemical Company, Herbert Henry Dow had made a revolutionary finding – he found a novel electrolytic process for extracting different chemicals from sea/saline water. He made use of his unique procedure to utilize the wealth of chemicals that lay hidden in an ancient sea under the flatlands of Midland.

Making its beginning in the 1890s, The Dow Chemical Company has not only successfully extracted different chemicals, it has also given a variety of products to the world. The company was responsible for the first large-scale synthesis of an organic chemical when it manufactured chloroform. During World War I, the company produced synthetic indigo dye and synthetic phenol. As the1930s arrived, Dow became a major producer of petrochemical products. Styrene, one of the two major constituents of synthetic rubber was developed by Dow; the development proved particularly helpful in the World War II days, when natural rubber became scarce.

The Dow Chemical Company now has world-wide operations and is one of Midland’s Fortune 500 companies. If we go on listing, we find that the company has produced over 1000 substances, products and by-products in its 120 years of existence.

The other Fortune 500 Company headquartered in Midland is The Dow Corning Corporation. Established in 1943, the company has brought Midland recognition as the leader in Silicone Chemistry. Initially, the Dow-Corning venture produced substances that acted as insulation material of electric motors, aircraft ignition systems, etc. and was even used during World War II. In the late 1950s, the company ventured into the production of various medical products as well as simple consumer items for day-to-day use.

With so much happening in the industrial arena, it can be said that the history of Midland is actually the history of its innovative/pioneering industries.

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