Eaton Rapids is a city in Eaton County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 5,214 at the 2010 census.The city is located in the south of Eaton Rapids Township, on the boundary with Hamlin Township, though it is politically independent of both townships. Its nickname is the Island City, since the downtown is located on an island, with a public park, in the Grand River.The Potawatomi people established a village in the area of what is now Eaton Rapids in about 1774. This was part of their wide territory in historic times.The area constituting Eaton Rapids was first settled by Euro-Americans around the year 1835, who were drawn there because of the timber and water power in the area.
It became a center of industry. The following year, a sawmill was constructed near Spring Brook in Spicerville; it provided the lumber settlers used to build Eaton Rapids. In 1837, the Old Red Mill was constructed by the mill company; it used waterpower from the stream to grind corn. The mill company later used wood from Spicerville to construct their own sawmill along the Grand River, as well as a wool carding mill.In 1852, mineral water was first discovered by E.B. Frost, earning Eaton Rapids worldwide fame and the nickname The Saratoga of the West, referring to Saratoga Springs, New York, which had tourism based on such waters.This water was in huge demand, and resulted in many people coming to take mineral water baths, considered to have health benefits, as well as cures from specific ailments.
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