When the lumbermen withdrew from Midland to follow the green frontier north, the city might have become just another ghost town if it weren’t for Herbert H. Dow. In 1890, Dow began a series of experiments to extract chemicals from the common salt brine that was below the surface of most of central Michigan, eventually founding Dow Chemical Company.
Although the 24-year-old was called “Crazy Dow” by the locals when he arrived in town with little but a good idea, he was a surprisingly farsighted inventor and humanitarian who founded a well-planned city of neat streets and good architecture. Today, this city of 41,000 continues to benefit from Dow’s influence, and many of the city’s attractions—from sports to cultural activities—bear his fingerprints.
Travelers can fly directly into the MBS International Airport (8500 Garfield Rd., Freeland, www.mbsairport.org ), rent a car, and head to Midland via M-20/U.S. 10. Those driving from elsewhere in Michigan can take M-20 from Mount Pleasant  or I-75 to Bay City, which is linked to the Midland area via U.S. 10.