Arsenal of Democracy

Springbrook Recreation Area

World War II began in 1939, and by 1940, the United States wished to support the Allied Powers by providing military aid. On December 29, 1940, during one of his Fireside Chat broadcasts, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt urged Americans to join the fight. Speaking to manufacturers across the country: “I appeal to the owners of plants – to the managers, to the workers – to our own Government employees – to put every ounce of effort into producing these munitions swiftly and without stint.”

The Rouge River

Rouge River at Newburgh Lake

Located in southeast Michigan, the Rouge River weaves in and out of Hines Park. The small coastal river flows through Wayne, Oakland, and Washtenaw counties. The river runs approximately 125 miles long while the mainstream is about 44 miles in length. It has three tributaries (smaller streams that feed into a larger stream, river, or lake): the Upper, Middle, and Lower branches. There are more than 400 lakes, impoundments, and ponds connected to the Rouge River.

Wayne County Road Commission and Parks System

Cass Benton Recreation Area

The Wayne County Parks System developed in tandem with the automobile industry during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Locals wanted easy access to nature, an escape from urban life. These requests were the beginnings of a harmonious park system, an area that would both preserve and provide access to the natural as well as embrace a new and personal form of transportation.

Henry Ford’s Legacy

Wilcox Mill

Henry Ford was the driving force of southeast Michigan’s industrialization and historic preservation movement. He was a man with ideas who desired a canvas to share and display them. The Dearborn area was the perfect place to realize Ford’s many innovations, especially since he actively supported and employed local community members. Throughout his work, Ford sought the balance of embracing new technology while also engaging in agricultural pursuits. 

Bicycling in Hines Park

Bicycling is a favorite pastime for many Wayne County residents. The Middle Rouge Parkway is filled with bicycle paths that are open to locals and visitors near and far. Many would be surprised to learn that this pastime was popular in southeast Michigan over one hundred years ago! Before it was the Motor City, Detroit was the country’s bicycling capital.

Arab American History

Warrendale Recreation Area

Michigan is well known for having one of the largest Arab and Chaldean populations in not only the United States, but around the world (outside of the Middle East, of course)! Dearborn, and the greater Detroit area, has been home for these communities for decades, and for some, over a century.

The Underground Railroad

Merriman Hollow

Michigan played a critical role in the Underground Railroad and the abolition of slavery during the 1800s. As part of a political and moral battle, some Michiganders guided the formerly enslaved to freedom in Canada. Despite local lore about Underground Railroad stations in western Wayne County, there are no official records that confirm their existence. However, undocumented and potential locations include: General Schwartz’s home at Wayne Road and Ann Arbor Trail; McFarlane’s Tavern on the southeast corner of Stark and Plymouth Roads; and Brink Farm at Ann Arbor Trail and Ann Arbor Road. Additionally, it is believed that villages with Quaker, Covenanter, Wesleyan Methodist, and Free Presbyterian churches functioned as potential stations. Community lore also suggests that Indian Trails were used in Underground Railroad activity.

Ghost Towns

Former site of Perrin Park

Much of the area known today as Wayne County underwent numerous transformations throughout history, especially its villages. During the 1800s and 1900s, these villages, or ghost towns, quickly sprung up and contributed greatly to development of the area, but then disappeared almost as quickly as they came. These ghost towns in southeast Michigan include Perrinsville, Wallaceville, Schwartzburg, Warrendale, Newburg, and more.

Bennett Arboretum

Bennett Arboretum

What is an arboretum? Some might think it’s a fancy word for park. Others might think it’s a forest. If one thinks it might be a garden, then they’re on the right track! An arboretum is a botanical garden that hosts collections of trees and other woody collections. Many describe it as a “living tree collection” of various species of trees, shrubs, and plants. This living tree collection is often created for scientific as well as aesthetic purposes. Many arboretums are arranged in an intentional way, focusing on characteristics such as shared properties, uses, or even natural likeness or common ancestry of trees and plants.

Native American History

Native American History

Indigenous to this area, Native Americans have lived in present-day Michigan for thousands of years. Drawn to the Rouge River and the mastodons that lived close by, from about 10,000 BC to 400 AD Native Americans thrived on this land as hunters and gatherers. They called the well-known Michigan river “mishqua sibe” or “Minosagoink,” which translated to “Singeing Skin River, a place where game was dressed.”