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Lumbering in Saginaw

Discover how Saginaw became the lumber capital of the world.


The Saginaw Valley was the leading lumbering area in Michigan between 1840 and 1860. Rapid growth continued, and by 1869, the Saginaw Valley alone was earning $7 million yearly. By 1870, the lumber industry was the country’s largest employer and the Saginaw Valley boasted 80 sawmills. Despite predictions, these “boom times” would last 50 years or more, but it all ended as suddenly as it began.

The Museum brings this period to life with its extensive collection of historic images, tools and equipment, log marks and other artifacts on lumbering. Learn about the logging process, what life was like in the logging camp, where the prominent sawmills were located in Saginaw and how the logs were transported both by land and by water.

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