River Rouge is a city in Wayne County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 7,903 at the 2010 census. It is named after the River Rouge (from the French “rouge” meaning red), which flows along the city’s northern border and into the Detroit River. The city includes the heavily industrialized Zug Island at the mouth of the River Rouge. The small settlement incorporated as a village in 1899 within Ecorse Township. In 1922 as the city of Detroit expressed interest in annexing land in the township, the Village of River Rouge incorporated as a city on April 3 to avoid being annexed. A month later Detroit completed annexation of land in the township immediately to the west of River Rouge.
One of the most important historical associations with River Rouge is its relationship to a Great Lakes freighter, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in 1975 in a fierce storm in Lake Superior, with the loss of all 29 crew. The ship was constructed in 1958 at the Great Lakes Engineering Works in River Rouge and was the largest ship on the lakes at the time. The city had its peak of population in 1950, when industry was the mainstay of the local economy. Restructuring of heavy industry and movement of jobs offshore have taken a toll of the city; the loss of jobs resulted in loss of population. In 2015 the population is less than half of what it was in 1950. Many workers who had the flexibility to seek jobs in other areas moved away.
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