Midland History


Midland, Michigan is located mid-section of the Michigan mitt, near the crook of the thumb. Together, Saginaw, Midland, and Bay City make up the area commonly referred to as the Great Lakes Bay Region. As far as population numbers, Midland is the second largest of the three cities. Saginaw is the largest; Bay City, the smallest.

Native Americans

Midland has evolved from an Indian village to the "City of Science and Culture." If you visited Midland in the 1850s, you would have discovered riverbanks lined with Chippewa Indian Wikkiups, round huts made of bent saplings, skins, and bark. You may have come across an Indian man hunting or fishing while others worked crops of corn, squash, and pumpkins. The 1,000 acres now known as the Chippewa Nature Center originally were part of the 6,000 acres retained by the Chippewa Tribe under the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw.

Native Americans-Historical Society Pic


Following the era of Indian hunters, fishermen, and white fur-traders were farmers and loggers. The second largest sawmill in the Saginaw Valley was located in Midland. What is now Main Street began as a series of businesses along a dirt road constructed of timber cut from surrounding forests. Midland County was organized in 1850. By 1874, the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad extended through the heart of Midland to Averill, three miles to the west.

The City of Midland was incorporated in 1887.


In 1890, a young man named Herbert Henry Dow arrived in Midland and subsequently founded The Dow Chemical Company. His success enabled Midland to survive the end of the logging era and to grow to its present size.

Now the heart of Michigan’s technology basin, Midland is the global headquarters of two Fortune 500 companies, Dow Chemical and Dow Corning Corporation, and home to the Midland Cogeneration Venture, the largest gas-fueled, steam recovery co-generation facility in North America.

Midland has become a center for industrial innovation, and is quickly becoming a hub for the solar energy industry, emerging technologies, and a variety of entrepreneurial pursuits.

For more on the City of Midland's economic development partner, visit Midland Tomorrow.

Herbert Dow sepia tone portrait