On the west side of the Saginaw River, across from Downtown Saginaw, when it was known as East Saginaw, there was a town known as Florence which was mostly Sawmills and Salt Processing companies that ran along Niagra (Walter back then) and Genesee streets. In the center of the town, around where the bean elevator is now, the Chicago Salt and Lumbering Co. founded in 1853 had a large sawmill, three salt blocks, two brine wells and a shipyard. The 107 ft long side-wheel tug Ajax was built in Florence in 1864 and burned near Bay City on Saginaw Bay in 1872. The town had nearly 30 houses and a population of about 150 people of which many worked for the Chicago company. Other businesses in Florence included the Shaw and Williams steam sawmill located between Genesee and Johnson, the Merrill and Whittier Co. along the river north of Genesee street that operated a sawmill, shingle mill and salt works. Another business in Florence was a shingle mill south of Genesee street owned by George Davenport who later became a state senator and I assume Davenport Street was named after.
In 1880 Charles K. Eddy and his sons purchased the Chicago Salt and Lumbering Co. and over the next few years the town was bustling with activity, but eventually the lumber boom came to an end. One by one the sawmills, shingle mills and salt works closed eventually the last mill to operate in Florence was the C.K. Eddy mill. By the early 1900’s Florence was sort of a ghost town with people living in houseboats along the river and by 1940 representatives of C.K. Eddy and Sons which owned most of the land in Florence asked the court to vacate the old plot of Florence, and it became part of the City of Saginaw.
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