Site No.1: The City of Otsego


Otsego’s early history is fascinating because it prospered from the presence of water in two very different and ultimately mutually exclusive ways.

Mineral springs were discovered in Otsego around 1850 and the town quickly became a spa resort, which by 1870 was attracting visitors from far and wide to “take the waters”.  Many hotels sprang up to support the industry and mineral water was shipped from here all over the state.

Mineral Springs
The sign on the building says: 
"Hot and cold baths for General Debility and
all Chronic diseases treated successfully."

Then in the late 1870’s Otsego’s location on the Kalamazoo River brought the first of several paper mills which would change Otsego forever.  The first mill was the Bardeen Paper Mill.  By 1887, 125 men were employed by the town’s mills.  Workers received $7.00 a week for a ten-hour day, six days a week – good money at that time! Today, only one mill remains, but it is a major source of employment and prosperity for the town.

Take some time to explore the community and learn more about its history.  A historic self-guiding walking tour pamphlet is available. Check with the Chamber of Commerce, the library or the historical museum for a copy.


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