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The City of Eaton Rapids, Michigan is in the southeastern portion of Eaton County, overlapping Eaton Rapids Township and Hamlin Township, in the south-central Lower Peninsula.

The downtown district of Eaton Rapids is on an island, with a public park. The longest river in Michigan, the Grand River forms a portion of the city's southeastern border before entering the city, where it flows generally north through the center of Eaton Rapids, exiting in the northeast. Spring Brook enters the river near the center of the city, while Spicer Creek enters in the north.

The main routes to and through the city are M-50, M-99, and M-188. Other routes include 5 Point Highway, South Clinton Trail (Main Street, Dexter Road), Michigan Road (Michigan Street), Plains Road (State Street), Spicerville Highway, and VFW Road (Water Street). Nearby cities and villages include Charlotte, Dimondale, Potterville, Springport, Mason, Lansing, and Olivet.

The original inhabitants of the land that was to become Eaton Rapids were the Potawatomi people, who were forced to move as a result of the 1830 Indian Removal Act. The first European-Americans came around 1835 seeking timber, and attracted to the river and creeks, which could be used for water power.

In 1836, a sawmill was built near Spring Brook, near the now-defunct community of Spicerville, east of Eaton Rapids. In 1837, the Old Red Mill was built in what is now Eaton Rapids, using water power from the stream to grind corn. Using wood from Spicerville, the mill company later built its own sawmill along the Grand River, adding a wool carding mill later.

In 1838, Eaton Rapids was platted by Amos and Pierpont E. Spicer, Benjamin Knight, Samuel Hamlin, and C.C. Darling, all of whom came from Ohio. On September 27 of that year, a post office was established, with Benjamin Knight as postmaster.

Mineral water was discovered at Eaton Rapids by E.B. Frost in 1852. Believed to have health benefits, the water was in great demand. As a result, Eaton Rapids became a destination for health tourists, who came to take mineral water baths. Fourteen wells were drilled in Eaton Rapids to supply mineral water, although only three are still operational.

In 1859, Eaton Rapids was incorporated as a village, and became a city in 1881. The town grew by more than a hundred percent during the 1860s, and by nearly fifty percent in the 1870s. The Grand River provided water power for grist mills, woolen mills, lumber mills, and other industries, and the city's supply of mineral water attracted visitors to Eaton Rapids through the early 1900s, and water was also bottled and shipped throughout the country.

John B. Davidson came to Eaton Rapids from Pennsylvania in 1921 to establish a textile mill. The only textile mill in the state that spun its own yarn, the Davidson Mill supplied ninety-five percent of the yarn for Major League Baseball uniforms, and also produce high-grade yarn for other applications. His mill was in operation until 1969, when it burned, while Davidson went on to become mayor of Eaton Rapids, and to represent the area in the State House and State Senate.

Irving Jacob Reuter, president of the Oldsmobile auto company, built a 17-room, Tudor Revival-style mansion in Eaton Rapids in 1927. The structure later became the private residence of the Most Reverend Joseph H. Albers, the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lansing. It has been sold several times since, and was added to the List of Registered Historic Places in Michigan in 1991.

The Eaton Rapids business district is located on an island in the middle of the Grand River, accessed by bridges to the north, south, east, and west. Behind the business district, to the east, is another island known as Grand Army Republic Park. At one time, there were fourteen bridges in Eaton Rapids, although today it is down to six vehicle bridges and three pedestrian bridges.

Websites representing the city or any individuals, businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, sports programs and teams, and recreational opportunities in Eaton Rapids are appropriate resources for this guide.


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