The following artifact gallery is part of a curated exhibit by 5th grade students of Harrison Park Elementry School, Grand Rapids.
These Museum artifacts help us understand how 14 million people depend on the Grand River for fresh water and domestic supplies. In the past, the Grand River was used mostly for food, transportation, and bathing. However, as people became more settled the river has changed a lot since the environmental dark ages of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Below are some of our favorite Grand River Facts:
• Early settlers reshaped the downtowns terrain in about 30 years. At one time there were REAL rapids.
• The Grand River is the longest river in Michigan! It measures 260 miles in length.
• The Ottawa Indians inhabited this area and called it “Owashtanog”, meaning “far away water” before the European Fur Traders arrived.
• The river had man dug canals that powered about 86 factories.
• The Grand River starts by rising in Jackson County, then flows into Lansing, and empties into Lake Michigan in Grand Haven.
•A long time ago, the mile of boulder-strewn rapids through Leonard Street and Pearl Street made the Grand River drop 18 feet. Today there are no rapids because the rock and limestone was removed to build the buildings of Grand Rapids.