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The City of Rockford, Michigan is in Kent County, spanning Algoma, Cannon, Courtland, and Plainfield townships.

The Rogue River flows through the center of the city, while Rum Creek and Shaw Creek also enter the city, and Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park, a 92-mile rail trail park that follows the path graded for the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad, also passes through Rockford.

US-131 is just west of the city limits, and may be accessed through 10 Mile Road. Cities and villages within twenty-five miles of Rockford include Cedar Springs, Sparta, Sand Lake, Grand Rapids, Pierson, East Grand Rapids, Kent City, Walker, Casnovia, Kentwood, Wyoming, Greenville, Belding, Grandville, Coopersville, Howard City, Ravenna, and Lowell, while the unincorporated communities of Belmont, Chauncey, Northview, Cannonsburg, and Comstock Park are within ten miles of the city.

Prior to European-American settlement of the region, it was visited often by various Native American people, including the Hopewell, Mascouten, and Ottawa tribes. However, there has been no evidence of Native American settlements in the Rogue River Valley.

Marlin Hunter came to the area looking for lumbering opportunities in 1842. He wintered in a cabin near the Rogue River, and the following spring he was joined with his brother, William, who hoped to dam the river to provide waterpower for a sawmill.

Smith Lapham came in 1843 to assist in the construction of the dam and sawmill begun by William Hunter. In return, Hunter gave Lapham forty acres of land on the east side of the river. Lapham remained for the rest of his life, while Hunter soon left the area. Lapham built his own sawmill on his side of the river, completing it in 1844, and other settlers soon came to the area. Prominent early settlers included John Long, Freeman Burch, and William Thornton.

When a post office was established on April 5, 1848, it was named Laphamville, as the settlement was mainly on land owned or sold by Smith Lapham, and Mr. Lapham was the postmaster. In 1856, the village was platted as Laphamville by William Thornton.

In 1865, the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad extended its line northward through the village, opening a station there. However, railroad officials suggested a shorter name for its station. Derived from the shallow, rocky ford below the dam, where travelers crossed the river, the name Rockford was chosen and approved. The village was replatted under that name in 1865, and the post office was renamed Rockford on August 24, 1866. Rockford was incorporated as a village in 1866 and became a city in 1935.

Originally dependent upon the railroad and the lumber industry, Rockford was soon home to a shoe factory and tannery in the early 1900s. Wolverine World Wide, a publicly traded American footwear manufacturer, was founded in Rockford in 1883, and its corporate offices continue to be in Rockford, although it now has corporate offices in Massachusetts, as well.

First appearing on a census roll in 1870 with a population of 582, Rockford's population in 2020 was 6,142. Its only decade of decline was in 1900.

The City of Rockford, Michigan is the focus of this portion of our guide. Appropriate topics include websites representing the municipal government, as well as any other governmental bodies within the city, and local businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, entertainment venues, and recreational opportunities.


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