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The City of Ecorse, Michigan is part of the Downriver community in Wayne County, south of Detroit, along the western shore of the Detroit River.

Ecorse borders on Detroit, Lincoln Park, River Rouge, and Wyandotte. Its southern border is the Ecorse River, while its eastern border is the much larger Detroit River. The entirely wooded Mud Island, in the Detroit River, is part of the city. Although the Detroit River also forms the United States border with Ontario, Canada, there are no international bridges in Ecorse.

The main route to and from the city is West Jefferson Avenue, which runs generally north-south and serves as the city's main street, and becomes Biddle Avenue when it crosses the Ecorse River into Wyandotte to the south. East-west routes include Visger Road, Outer Drive West, and Southfield Road.

In recent decades, Ecorse has become more and more urbanized, with very little public land and fewer intact natural areas. However, the city's goals include the restoration of Ecorse Creek as an area for natural flora and fauna, as well as improving the waterway for canoeing and kayaking.

Under water for about twenty years, Mud Island re-emerged in the early 1960s and has been annexed by the City of Ecorse. City officials have arranged with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild the island using fill dredged from the Detroit River's Trenton Channel Project. Expected to eventually reach the size of at least fifty acres, it will be used for recreational purposes. Currently, there is no development on the island and public access is not permitted.

As early as 1763, the area was known as the River Aux Echorches. It served as the retreat of Pontiac and allied chiefs, including Wyandotte, in the plot to rid the Midwest of white settlers. It was also a burying ground for local Native American tribes.

Its name is derived from the French, which translates to the River of the Barks, as this was a place where local Native Americans gathered to strip bark for their canoes.

The first white settlements of the region were by the French, although the French influence over the area has pretty much disappeared, other than in some of the city's street names. Around 1785, Pierre and Michael Campau took claims at the River Aux Echorches. Most of the early settlers were from Detroit or Sandwich, Ontario. The first settlers built farms along the Detroit River between the Saint Cosme Line and the River Aux Echorches.

The first settlers who weren't Native American or French were the Goodell family. Born in England, Elijah Goodell came to Michigan in 1799 and purchased a farm in Ecorse from Louis Leduc in 1818. Jonas Goodell inherited the farm in 1820. A post office was established on October 29, 1827, and named Ecorse. Daniel Goodell was the first postmaster. The village was platted for Alexis Labadie, Simeon Rousseau, L. Bourassau, and P. White in 1836, and recorded as Grand Port, although the post office retained the name Ecorse.

In 1903, the settlement was incorporated as the village of Ecorse. In the early 1900s, the village did good business as a resort town for vacationers from Detroit. A trolley connected Ecorse with Detroit, allowing Detroiters to vacation in Ecorse while, at the same time, people could live in Ecorse and commute to Detroit each day.

During Prohibition, bootleggers would run alcohol from Canada. While Ecorse would appear to be a normal residential community during the day, at night bootleggers rented homes to be used as blind pigs, and barns, garages, and basements were used as places to store the smuggled liquor to produce moonshine. Millions of untaxed dollars exchanged hands during this period.

Even before the end of Prohibition in 1933, Ecorse was not fully dependent upon an illegal economy. In 1923, the Michigan Steel Mill was opened for business and employing about five hundred men. In 1929, construction of the Great Lakes Steel Corporation began and, by 1936, more than eight thousand people were employed in steel mills in Ecorse.

Other industries that came into being during the late 1920s and early 1930s included the Modern Collet Company, the Hinkley Motors Company, the Shwayder Trunk Company, the Great Lakes Forging Company, the Detroit City Ice and Fuel Company, the Grasselle Chemical Company, and the Bowen Products Corporation. The construction of the Nicholson Dock and Terminal Company made Ecorse a port city. Ecorse was incorporated as a city on September 15, 1941, and its transformation into an urban industrial city was well underway.

The focus of this guide is on the City of Ecorse, Michigan. Online resources representing the city or any individuals, businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, attractions, events, and recreational or sports facilities and programs are appropriate for this category.

 

 

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