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Learn About the History of Cedar Springs

1 week ago · ·0 comments

Learn About the History of Cedar Springs

Justin Becker

Updated: July 6, 2020

Cedar Springs is a beautiful place to live, especially if you are looking for first-rate manufactured/mobile home communities. In general, Cedar Springs has been cultivating their mobile home communities and parks to be more accommodating as well as offer more perks. Thus, if you are on your way to this lovely Michigan city with moving boxes in tote, you have made an excellent decision.

As you settle in, or even beforehand, it never hurts to learn a little more about your new community and city. One way to truly get a feel for a place is to get better acquainted with its history. So, here’s a brief synopsis of Cedar Springs’ humble logging and red flannel beginnings.

1850s to 1870s

The city of Cedar Springs was once one of the many lumber towns in Michigan that were fully operational in 1856. In fact, Michigan was the nation’s top timber producer at this time, and its sawmills were easily the most efficient worldwide. With lumber and shingle mills, agricultural farms, and a convenient access point to the tri-state railroad, Cedar Springs was booming with activity as well as leading the charge for Michigan’s timber production. People who settled here during this period did well for themselves and helped to turn this future city into a significant logging hub that is still celebrated to this day (logging and harsh winters brought about the rise of the celebratory Red Flannel Festival). Nevertheless, this lumber town wasn’t officially incorporated as a village until late March, 1871. Fun fact: this village/town got its name from the fine springs that bordered a cedar grove.

1880s to 1900s

As time went on, the village of Cedar Springs experienced urban sprawl and a bustling downtown area, ie., Main Street was established. Yet, despite an influx of businesses, people, and residential properties, this city’s economy still very much depended on the logging industry up until the late 1880s when forested lands started to become depleted. Subsequently, a pivotal moment in Cedar Springs’ history was the construction of the Saginaw and Muskegon Railway, later named the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, in 1887/1888. This railway transported just about everything, including flour, wheat, passengers (many of which were tourists), and mail.

1910s to 1930s

Though the Grand Trunk Western Railroad helped to diversify Cedar Springs’ economy and bring more tourists to the area, there was eventually a decline in railway transport and transportation in general in the early-mid 1900s. This left Cedar Springs to refocus its energy into logging once again.

Fun fact: this city hosts an annual Red Flannel Festival thanks to one of the harshest winters in 1936, a New York writer looking for red flannels in the US, and a Cedar Springs business-savvy merchant who knew how to market his product. Since 1939, Red Flannel Day/Festival has been a thing here and shows no signs of stopping after 81 years.

1940s to 1960s

Along those same lines, the Red Flannel Factory was established in 1952 by Sally Wall. Up until this point in history, despite the overwhelming popularity of red flannel undergarments, Cedar Springs did not actually make red flannel garments. However, Mrs. Wall saw the opportunity to change that fact and operated the Red Flannel Factory for roughly 40 years. The production of red flannel wear in Cedar Springs continues and is a viable part of this town’s past, present, and future.

1970s to 1990s

By the late 1970s, logging was no longer a prominent vocation here. Thanks to Mrs. Wall, and others, Cedar Springs set its sights on manufacturing, which is still this city’s most common occupation to date. Other professions like retail trade, healthcare jobs, and education services trail close behind, but still are no match for the manufacturing industry in Cedar Springs. Moreover, the overall population in this city hadn’t changed much since its incorporation in 1871. Yet, suddenly in the mid-1970s, this community saw one of its first real growth spurts and never looked back. By the 1990s, Cedar Springs had doubled in size, which many attribute to an increase in manufacturing employment opportunities.

2000s to Present

Though still die-hard red flannel lovers, Cedar Springs has reinvented itself as a city time and time again. Thus, it is not too surprising that this city continues to flourish to this day and is a fantastic place to live, work, and play. Manufactured/Mobile home communities are first-rate here, its business district is vibrant, and recreational adventures are waiting for you around every corner. Furthermore, this lively city, with a rich history, is only 20 minutes out from one of Michigan’s “big cities,” Grand Rapids, which offers even more entertainment and annual funfair.

Everyday Life In Cedar Springs

So, now that you have purchased a pair of red flannel drop-seat long johns and packed up your former residence, it’s time to get settled into your new manufactured home in Cedar Springs. Armed with the knowledge of this city’s backstory, you should have no trouble at all navigating this small-town community with ease. Once you have settled in officially, take the day and get a taste of everyday life here. Of course, one of the simplest ways to do this is to explore your present-day community.

Exploring Your Community

Cedar Springs is the perfect size for you to take in the major sights and sounds in a weekend, but not all. So, decide where you want to start first. If you want to check out all the historical sites, you will definitely have your work cut out for you. Then again, if you’re a nature lover and want to jump right into all the outdoor recreation, maybe save the 93-mile Fred Meijer White Pine Trail for later. Of course, no matter the plan of attack you devise, you are going to need to eat something. Hence, you might want to try out some of the local favorites.

Historical Sites

Clearly, Cedar Springs is brimming with history; therefore, you may want to start with the easy stuff, like the Cedar Springs Historical Museum. Here you can get a quick rundown of the area and see how this city has changed over the last 200 years. At the museum, you will come across the famed one-room Payne School. This relic of the past is undeniably a must-see while you are there.

Later, maybe stop by another building with deep roots in this community—the Kent Theatre. Still fully operational, this theatre is located on Main Street and was constructed in the 1880s. At that time, the Hubbard Opera House, as it was called, was the stage for traveling acts. Fast forward to the 1920s, this building was now the Empire Theater, which played the best picture shows. By 1930, this now-movie theatre was updated and renamed the Kent Theatre.

Restaurants

After learning more about the Kent Theatre and its 120-year run, maybe grab a bite to eat. If you’re looking for a burger and a beer, then Cedar Springs Brewing Company is for you. Other local eateries included Stein Brother’s Pizza Co., Red Bird, Classic Kelly’s, Flo’s Wood Fired Pizzeria, Momma’s Boy, Ramona’s Table, and more. The Corner Bar and Lakeside Inn are two more local treats to frequent.

Outdoor Recreation

Lastly, if you came for outdoor fun, then get ready. Cedar Springs has an abundance of parks, recreational spaces, community gardens, and four-wheeler/snowmobile trails. There is also an amphitheater and the North Kent Community Enrichment Center. The NKCE Center is truly a one-stop-shop for activities, so enjoy and welcome home.

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About The Author

Justin Becker

Justin Becker is a property owner in the state of Michigan and has a passion for managing communities. He owns both apartment complexes and mobile home communities and has been writing his own blogs for his properties for several years.

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