In 1825, New York’s Erie Canal, which connected Albany on the Hudson River to Buffalo on Lake Erie, opened. This new water route enabled more and more whites to move westward and settle in the Michigan Territory. From 1820 to 1830, the population more than tripled, to just over 31,000. In 1837, the burgeoning territory was awarded statehood, making Michigan the 26th state in the Union.
By 1840, more than 200,000 people had moved to Michigan. Early industry revolved around farming and agriculture, with lumber becoming a hugely successful enterprise in the later part of the century. Altogether, more than 160 billion feet of pine were cut and hauled from Michigan’s northwoods by the 1890s—enough to build 10 million six-room houses. While the southern part of the state grew increasingly civilized, the northwoods were filled with wild and rollicking logging camps.