[Mappy Monday] What grew here? : Using Vegetation Maps in Your Research

Saginaw County Vegetation circa 1800 map, produced by Michigan Natural Features Inventory.
Saginaw County Vegetation circa 1800 map, produced by Michigan Natural Features Inventory.

What did the vegetation consist of at the location of Frankenmuth prior to European settlement? It was a beech-sugar maple forest. The answer was easily found using Michigan Natural Features Inventory’s “Vegetation circa 1800 Maps.” These maps show the vegetation growing in Michigan at the time of the General Land Office cadastral surveys taken between 1816 and 1856. According to the Michigan Natural Features Inventory website, “Surveyors took detailed notes on the location, species, and diameter of each tree used to mark section lines and section corners. They commented on the locations of rivers, lakes, wetlands, the agricultural potential of soils and the general quality of timber along each section line as they were measured out.” From theses notes the Michigan Natural Features Inventory created color-coded maps for each of today’s Michigan counties. The maps include township section outlines and numbers making it easy to locate a particular location. They can be accessed here.

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