|Lower Dam (Wright's Mill) north of
Fairplains St. bridge, Greenville 1878
Montcalm County was on the southern end of a large white pine forest known as the super pine belt. Mature trees, 125 feet tall and two feet in diameter with no limbs for 100 feet up the tree, meant there were no knots in the finished lumber.
The lumbering industry started in Montcalm County around 1866 and reached its peak about 1890. The fire that almost destroyed the city of Chicago, brought a lumbering boom to Michigan. Our large stands of mature white pine trees meant new homes and businesses for Chicago.
The lumber camps drew their unskilled labor from the agricultural population of the county. Some of the farmers made it a practice to farm in the warm months and be lumberjacks in the winter months.
Because of the many streams in Montcalm County, sawmills were prevalent throughout the county. The Flat River was the waterway where rafts of logs found their way to the Greenville sawmills and on down the river to the village of Lowell, where the Flat River flows into the Grand River. From the Grand River the logs continued down river to markets in Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Spring Lake, Grand Haven and on across Lake Michigan to Chicago.