Today in Michigan History

June 9, 1881

The Soo Locks were given to the federal government.

Federal ownership of this valuable passageway at Sault Ste. Marie, ended the several-cent toll that Michigan had collected from ships passing between Lakes Huron and Superior. Today, the locks remain toll free and are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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Today in Michigan History

June 8, 1926

Babe Ruth came to Detroit.

Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees hit one of the longest home runs in the history of Detroit’s Navin Field. The homer measured 626 feet. After clearing the fence, it bounced off the tops of several cars before being retrieved a block from the stadium.

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Today in Michigan History

June 7, 1860

The Republicans nominated Austin Blair for governor.

In a meeting at Detroit’s Merrill Hall, the Republicans chose Austin Blair of Jackson as their gubernatorial candidate. Born in New York in 1818, Blair arrived in Michigan in 1837. He was elected to the state House in 1845 as a Whig. A founder of the Michigan Republican party, Blair served in the state Senate before being elected governor in 1860. Re-elected in 1862, Blair was a firm opponent of slavery and became one of the nation’s leading governors to support Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to win the Civil War.

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Today in Michigan History

June 4, 1896

Henry Ford introduced his quadricycle.

Ford and his assistant Jim Bishop prepared to drive Ford’s quadricycle. The light and small horseless carriage, which drew heavily on Ford’s experience as a bicycle maker, was too wide for the shed door where it had been constructed. Ford took an axe and knocked out enough bricks to allow the vehicle to pass into early morning darkness. With Bishop riding ahead on his bicycle, Ford started the engine, took hold of the steering lever and moved down the cobblestone alley onto Detroit’s Washington Boulevard. After a short ride, the two returned to Ford’s home on Bagley Avenue where Clara Ford served the men breakfast.

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Today in Michigan History

June 3, 1798

Father Gabriel Richard arrived in Detroit.

Escaping the Reign of Terror in France, Father Gabriel Richard reached Detroit in time to organize relief for the town, which burned to the ground on June 11. Surveying the devastation, Richard was heard to say, “Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus.” Translated, it meant “We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes.” It became Detroit’s city motto. Richard served his adopted city as an educator, minister and politician until 1832 when he died after ministering to Detroiters who contracted cholera.

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Today in Michigan History

June 2, 1763

Fort Michilimackinac was captured by Native Americans.

Ojibway (Chippewa) and Sac (Sauk) Indians massacred twenty British soldiers and one trader at Michilimackinac. The Indians had suggested playing a game of baggataway (lacrosse) in honor of the king’s birthday. Indian women watching the game concealed weapons beneath their blankets. When the ball flew over the stockade wall, the Indians rushed in and seized the fort.

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Today in Michigan History

June 1, 1910

Horace and John Dodge broke ground on a car parts factory in Hamtramck.

Dodge Main remade Hamtramck from a small town to a city of nearly 50,000. Most of its residents were Polish immigrants. In fact, the workday language in Dodge Main during World War II was Polish. Dodge Main grew to thirty-three buildings and five million square feet, with 40,000 workers. Dodge Main was deemed obsolete and closed down in 1980.

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