Big Prairie Township
Newaygo County Directories:
Snowmobile Trail Report
Michigan Fishing and Outdoor Conditions
Michigan Real Estate
Big Prairie Township 49337
Newaygo County, Michigan
Big Prairie Township Population: 2000(2465) 1990(1731) Change(734)
The Big Prairie Desert in Newaygo County was once said to be the largest desert east of the Mississippi River. Of course, because a desert is an area receiving less than 10 inches of rainfall per year and this region of Michigan has an average yearly precipitation of 30-36 inches, there could not be a desert there.
From the 1600's up to the 1830s, the area was occupied by the Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Chippewa tribes. The Chippewa were the most recent tribe to have villages in the area and Newaygo County itself is thought to be named after a Chippewa chief (the meaning of the word 'Newaygo' is disputed by historians).
From around 1835 to 1885 the Newaygo area must have been like a piece of the old-west in the mid-west. Previous to settlement, deer and elk would have roamed the prairies (buffalo had probably not been present). Grisly and black bear, mountain lions, and wolves would have presented a real danger. Contact with native Americans probably continued after settlement as they were moved a relatively short distance on large reservations. Boom towns sprung up around lumber mills and stagecoach stops. The "Indian" trails were still used for overland travel and waterways were still main travel routes. In 1872 railroads linked Grand Rapids to the city of Newaygo and then White Cloud a few years later.
For historical information visit The Big Prairie Desert: Michigan's Dust Bowl.
OTHER PLACES IN BIG PRAIRIE TOWNSHIP:BIG BEND PARK, BIG PRAIRIE, OXBOW, OXBOW PARK, TRUMBALL CORNERS,
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