As exemplified by the city seal, Mount Pleasant’s history was indelibly shaped by four elements—its Native American heritage as well as agriculture, education, and the discovery of oil. Native Americans, who had been promised lands in an 1855 treaty, began settling within Isabella County the following year. When a timber scout named David Ward purchased the land on the southern side of the Chippewa River, directly opposite what is today the Isabella Indian Reservation, he decided to call the fledgling village Mount Pleasant. Soon, merchants, artisans, and farmers flocked to the area.
The town gradually expanded, and by 1892, there was even a community college, the Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute, which would eventually become today’s Central Michigan University. The discovery of oil in 1928 changed the fortunes of the burgeoning town, which soon boasted hotels, restaurants, oil companies, and plenty of new residents. During the oil boom, many other industries left the area, but oil production kept Mount Pleasant from becoming a ghost town.
Today, Mount Pleasant (with a population of 26,200) is a more laid-back town, celebrated for its rich Chippewa heritage. Its two biggest attractions are, in fact, the Indian-owned Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort  and the annual Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Powwow . Of course, the area’s numerous golf courses , military memorials, recreational parks, and CMU football games also entice visitors.
To reach Mount Pleasant, situated in the middle of the Lower Peninsula, visitors can fly into MBS International Airport (8500 Garfield Rd., Freeland, www.mbsairport.org ), rent a car, and head west on M-20. Greyhound (1608 N. Fancher Rd., 800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com ) also offers a bus route into the area. Most folks, of course, will likely be driving from elsewhere in Michigan. Luckily, M-20 and U.S. 127 pass directly through the Mount Pleasant area.