Compared to most of the communities in the Downriver area, the establishment of Woodhaven as its own entity has been relatively recent. Much of the early settlement in the Southeastern Michigan area followed a typical pattern in that arriving settlers stayed close to waterways because they provided easy access to the necessities of life.
By Craig Hutchison, Staff Writer Discover Downriver
Compared to most of the communities in the Downriver area, the establishment of Woodhaven as its own entity has been relatively recent. Much of the early settlement in the Southeastern Michigan area followed a typical pattern in that arriving settlers stayed close to waterways because they provided easy access to the necessities of life. As riverfront communities became established throughout the 1800s and growing industries attracted more and more settlers, people began to look towards the interior of the land as a place for building and settling.
The historical cabin that now sits on the corner of Hall and West Roads is an excellent testament to those hearty pioneers that did make it out to what would have been considered the wilderness at the time. Dating back to the 1870s, the one-room hand hewn log and shingle building speaks to a time when the interior had few settlers and people survived by living off of the land. It is a symbol of a past and a way of life that was about to experience some major changes due to industrialization.
In the 1930s, Mobil Oil Company built a huge refinery on the corner of Allen and West Roads. The impact that this brought to the area cannot be overstated. People flocked to the refinery looking for work. With this influx of new settlers, new homes were built and the landscape started to take on a new look entirely. More industry followed and by the 1960s, the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad switchyard, Buckeye Pipeline Company, and Ford Motor Company called the area home. With this growth, the residents sensed the need to create their own community and in 1961, they broke free from Brownstown Township and the Village of Woodhaven was born. The village was named after one of the villages in Queens, New York. The General Manager of the refinery at the time was from New York and remembered a village there that he considered the most beautiful in the United States. The name of the village was Woodhaven. The boundaries of the newly formed village included Vreeland on the south, Trenton on the east, King Road on the north, and a half mile past Hall Road on the west.
With growth and the establishment of industry, neighboring communities began to look at this new village as a valuable commodity and a possible candidate for annexation. Village officials became very concerned about Trenton specifically and they feared the needs of the residents would be ignored if such a move were allowed to take place. Around this same time, I-75 was built which split the Village of Woodhaven in two. Village officials decided to protect their community by incorporating as a city in 1965.
The city has continued to grow in every way and is an appealing blend of residential and commercial. There are beautiful parks, convenient shopping, and numerous businesses and industry that service the residents and provide employment. The city has evolved into a place where its residents live, work, and play and all three are considered equally important to a life well lived.
- The Ford Woodhaven Stamping Plant employs more than 1200 people and manufactures door panels, floor pans, hoods, quarter panels, roofs, tailgates and truck body sides.
Craig Hutchison is a published author with a passion for local history. He has served in various capacities with several history institutions including The Henry Ford, the Henry Ford Estate, and the Dearborn Historical Museum. Craig believes in bringing history alive by helping people make connections between the past, present, and future. His favorite medium for doing this is through the written word. Read more of Craig’s writing on various and sundry topics at Wandering Wolverine Writings.