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A Brief History of Saline, Michigan

Generations of Native Americans traveled six trails that converged in the area we call Saline. They came to hunt wildlife for themselves and their families.

And, they came for salt. Native peoples harvested salt from the salt springs and carried it back to their villages for their own use and for trade.

Saline Area Historical SocietyIn the 18th century, French voyageurs canoed up the rivers from Lake Erie and left strong evidence that they, too, manufactured salt. They left their mark by naming the local river Saline after a French word for salt.

In the 19th century, Europeans settled here. The greatest numbers were English descendants who came from the East, having settled first in New England and New York State, and many others came from Germany.

Following the War of 1812, the federal government saw a need for a military road between Detroit and Chicago. A surveyor by the name of Orange Risdon was hired to survey such a road so that in the event of Indian uprisings, the military could move quickly. Risdon liked what he saw in the vicinity of the Saline River and decided to stay.

Together with Risdon, early residents named the village Saline. Through the 19th century, a small number of black families made their home in the village and made their living as farmers.

Twentieth-century families continued to increase the size of the village until, in 1966, it was deemed a city retaining the same name.