Newaygo County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Go Explore Newaygo County Paddling Fishing Camping
Newaygo County History

County History

As early as 1837 settlers in Newaygo County were harvesting the virgin white pine and sending it to market via the Muskegon River.  The first large-scale immigration to the county, however, began in 1855, when the appeal of these unbroken forests, combined with the Muskegon River, lured loggers and lumberjacks to the area.

Local genealogist and historian Sandy Vincent writes that “Pioneers in Newaygo County were motivated by the call of adventure and a chance to make a fortune in the vast wilderness.”  The area was even able to provide lumber to help rebuild the city of Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871.

Eventually, settlements built up around the sawmills and mill ponds. While some of these historical sites are long-gone, a few grew into the towns and communities that make up the county today. 

As the lumber disappeared, the land was gradually transitioned to growing various fruits and vegetables, and today agriculture continues to be an important part of the economic health of the area.

In 1904, construction of the Rogers and Croton Dams was commissioned.  Rogers was finished first in 1906, followed by completion of the Croton Dam in 1907, and eventually the Hardy Dam was added in 1931. The three dams generate about 45,500 kilowatts annually.  Croton Hardy Pond, a 1,380 acre all sports lake, is another result of the dams’ construction.

During the early 1920s Dan and Dorothy Gerber, who owned the Fremont Canning Company, devised a way to strain and puree fruits and vegetables for babies.  Now known as the “Baby Food Capital of the World,” Fremont is still home to Nestle/Gerber, and is the largest single employer in Newaygo County

Today, visitors are attracted to Newaygo County for its wide-range of outdoor activities such as fishing, paddling, biking, hunting, hiking and more.  The cities and settlements offer rural sophistication in the way of shopping, dining, lodging and festivals.  Whether your schedule allows a day visit, weekend stay or vacation adventure, Newaygo County is the perfect place to GO Exploring.