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Detroit: Engine of America

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Detroit: Engine of America

By R.J. King

This is the story of how, starting in 1701, a crude French settlement along the Detroit River became, in 1900, the birthplace of the automotive industry. Forging the first industrial powerhouse wasn’t easy. Scant inbound supplies from the English colonies took months, if they arrived at all. The first 100 inhabitants led by explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, with the guidance of Native American tribes, built a fledgling economy of fishing, farming, and hunting, the latter propelled mightily by the fur trade. As the populace sputtered and grew, they developed the machinery and skilled trades that produced in volume wagons, stagecoaches, steamships, hearths, locomotives, boxcars, furniture, stoves, equipment, marine engines, pharmaceutical drugs, and finally, the horseless carriage. Detroit’s grit and brawn ignited what is the first city in the Midwest, ingenuity and self-sufficiency thrust it on the world stage.

 

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