Clinton: Greatest Trading Point west of Detroit
Clinton: Once the Greatest Trading Point in Michigan, West of Detroit
Though the trip was long and tedious, the Erie Canal, which went from Albany to Buffalo, New York, brought many settlers to Michigan. Often they took a ship from Buffalo to Detroit, were outfitted and then traveled further along the Military Road, surveyed in 1827. Clinton’s first white settlers arrived in 1829 and named this town for the governor of New York, the home state of these first Clintonites. The journey from Detroit to Chicago by stagecoach was about eight days and Clinton was a stagecoach stop about fifty miles west of Detroit. Because of its position on the Chicago Pike and the efforts of early business people, Clinton became the greatest trading point west of Detroit, as early as 1836.
Early industries included the Atlas Mill, (1836-2006) a water powered gristmill (destroyed by fire in 2009), and the Clinton Woolen Mill (1867-1957), which was formed by local businessmen to make use of the wool produced in the area. Some of the sheepherders, who settled in the area, were originally from Manchester, England and Ireland. Clinton and the surrounding area was one of the largest wool producers in the US. The Mill manufactured cloth for soldiers in both World Wars and during the Spanish American War. It also produced material for fire, police and school uniforms and for automobile upholstery. The Woolen Mill has burned twice. After the first fire in 1886, the mill was rebuilt, with two large 4 story brick buildings in 1887 and 1891 and additional buildings as needed. In April of 2007, the two 4 story buildings burnt to the ground.
Clinton, once the greatest trading point west of Detroit, is now a lovely small town with wonderful late 19th century buildings including the: Clinton Inn and the Smith Kimball Community Center, several churches and homes. Each year the people of Clinton host a Fall Festival, the last weekend in September, where thousands of visitors enjoy the crafts, entertainment and parade.