not all those who wander are lost

Anybody ever hear of Fordson Island ?

I found it on a satellite image of the Rouge River near the Ford Rouge Plant. This is right across from Woodmere Cemetery, and just upriver from the infamous Fort Street Rouge River Bridge.

Fort Street Rouge River Bridge

Designated an Historical Site in 1992, this is the inscription on the marker:

On March 7, 1932, in the midst of the Depression, unemployed autoworkers, their families and union organizers braved bitter cold temperatures and gathered at this bridge, intent on marching to the Ford Rouge Plant and presenting a list of demands to Henry Ford. Some three thousand “hunger marchers” paraded down Miller Road. At the city limit Dearborn police blocked their path and hurled tear gas; The marchers responded with rocks and frozen mud. Near Gate No. 3 the demonstrators were bombarded by water from firehoses and a barrage of bullets. In the end, five marchers were killed, nineteen wounded by gunfire and numerous others by stones, bricks and clubs. Newspapers alleged the marchers were communists, but they were in fact people of all political, racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Here are where the tugs listed on the satellite photo above are docked.

On the left is the SHANNON, and on the right is the CAROLYN HOEY – in front out of frame is the PATRICIA HOEY from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Fordson Island is just out of frame to the left.

There used to be houses on the island but they wiped those off many years back. The other houses lining the canal are interesting, to say the least.

The massive Rouge complex is just up the river from here.

Photos just cant do justice to the scale of these buildings.

3 Responses to Fordson Island

  • I lived in southwest Detroit until the mid 1960’s. I noticed this island on a road map and a group of us used to ride our bikes to Fordson Island now and then. We used to crawl around half-sunken boats and some derelict buildings.
    There did not seem to be much activity there and we could not enter the Marathon Oil Co facility on the Rouge River side. Until now, I didn’t know that the island was created by making a channel for the boats.

  • FORDSON ISLAND: Fordson Island is a small islet in the middle of the Rouge River in the southeastern part of Dearborn. The 8.4-acre island was created in 1922 when federal engineers, at the request of Ford Motor Co., straightened and deepened a section of the Rouge River south of the Rouge Plant.

    The river originally was too shallow and wound too much to properly accommodate the Eagle Chaser boats from World War I that the Ford Motor Co. wanted the Rouge Plant to utilize.

    Federal engineers found it more efficient to cut directly across the land rather than deepen the existing river. Fordson Island was born upon completion of the $10 million channel.

    Access to the island was possible by boat and by a plank bridge from southwest Detroit. Today, the only land access remains the small one-lane bridge.

    After the channel was completed in 1922, several people bought the lots on the island to put up riverfront homes.

    In 1970, six residents still called the island home. Through the city’s Operation Eyesore, the remaining five dwellings were removed in 1989. With this went the last residents.

    The island today is home to a Marathon Oil facility and a second private company.

  • I work about a mile away from there and have always found that little corner of the city an interesting place.

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