Historical Saline

Named for its natural salt springs that originated 600 million years ago, Saline has been attracting visitors for tens of thousands of years – from Ice Age animals to the English-speaking settlers who started what has grown into the thriving City of Saline we know today.  

In 1832, Orange Risdon, chief surveyor of the Detroit-Chicago Road, (now US-12) officially established the town and named it Saline for its natural salt springs. The town was chartered in 1866, and will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2016.

For more information on historic sites in the Saline area and a more detailed account of Saline’s history, visit the Saline Area Historical Society.


Historical Milestone Highlights

Over 12,000 Years Ago: Unusual animals and Paleo Indians began making settling into the Saline area. Heading northeast into Pittsfield Township from Saline, mastodon tracks have been discovered; and, mastodon bones have been found in southeast Pittsfield Township — all which are now part of the artifacts collection at the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History.

1500s: Generations of Pottawatomie Indians migrated to Michigan, traveling six major trails that converged in the area we call Saline. They hunted wildlife that was attracted to the salt flats and harvested salt for trading and personal use.

1600s: French traders, traveling by canoe, discovered the salt springs and named the local river the “Saline River” after the French word for salt.

1800s: General William Harrison (9th president of the United States) set up a military encampment at Saline’s salt springs during the War of 1812 and Joseph Francis, a surveyor, officially documented the salt springs in 1819. In 1824, Europeans began a settlement in the Saline area and Orange Risdon, a chief surveyor of the Detroit-Chicago Road now known as U.S. 12 or Michigan Avenue, purchased land from the government that formed the basis for the village of Saline, incorporated in 1832. He and a group of others chose the name “Saline” because of the Saline River and the salt springs. Throughout the century, Saline grew and prospered with the expansion of agriculture, a salt mine, and establishment of a railroad line. Saline was officially chartered in 1866 and will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2016.

1900s: As cars and trucks replaced rail and trolley transportation, Saline remained a farming community. Saline became a city in 1931 and adopted its seal in 1966. To preserve Saline’s past, the city established the Historic District Commission in the mid 1970s, identifying 335 historic structures built between 1820 and 1926. The Saline Area Historical Society opened the Saline Railroad Depot Museum in 1995 and the Rentschler Farm Museum in 1999.

Museums

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Weber Blaess One-Room Schoolhouse

This one-room schoolhouse from the 1860’s is an interactive museum with many historical artifacts and furnishings.

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Rentschler Farm Museum

Rentschler Farm Museum

This free museum is open on Saturdays from 11 am – 3 pm. Tour the farmhouse, peruse through the garden or visit the baby farm animals.

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Depot Museum & Trail

This free museum is open on Saturdays from 11 am – 3 pm for browsing and guided tours. Visitors will see a station agent’s room, freight room, furnished caboose, a livery barn, and a restored Eclipse Windmill.

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Bixby Marionette Exhibit

Dioramas of Bixby’s marionettes and stage settings, photographs, and artwork highlight his 50 years as a national performer.

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Tours

Rentschler Farm Museum

Rentschler Farm Museum

This free museum is open on Saturdays from 11 am – 3 pm. Tour the farmhouse, peruse through the garden or visit the baby farm animals.

Details »

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Depot Museum & Trail

This free museum is open on Saturdays from 11 am – 3 pm for browsing and guided tours. Visitors will see a station agent’s room, freight room, furnished caboose, a livery barn, and a restored Eclipse Windmill.

Details »

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Wellers

Visit this unique one-of-a-kind property, once owned by Henry Ford open May through October.
OPEN HOUSE: EVERY Saturday 11 AM to 1 PM
No appointment needed

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