Rouge River Revived
How People Are Bringing Their River Back to Life
Foreword by William Clay Ford, Jr.
The history and restoration of an important watershed
Listen to an interview with the editors on Michigan Radio's Stateside
The Rouge River is a mostly urbanized watershed of about 500 square miles populated by nearly 1.4 million people. While not geographically large, the river has played an outsized role in the history of southeast Michigan, most famously housing Ford Motor Company’s massive Rouge Factory, designed by architect Albert Kahn and later memorialized in Diego Rivera’s renowned “Detroit Industry” murals. In recent decades, the story of the Rouge River has also been one of grassroots environmental activism. After pollution from the Ford complex and neighboring factories literally caused the river to catch on fire in 1969, community groups launched a Herculean effort to restore and protect the watershed. Today the Rouge stands as one of the most successful examples of urban river revival in the country.
Rouge River Revived describes the river’s history from pre-European times into the 21st century. Chapters cover topics such as Native American life on the Rouge; indigenous flora and fauna over time; the river’s role in the founding of local cities; its key involvement in Detroit’s urban development and intensive industrialization; and the dramatic clean-up arising from citizen concern and activism. This book is not only a history of the environment of the Rouge River, but also of the complex and evolving relationship between humans and natural spaces.
Praise / Awards
“The subject is of national significance in that the Rouge River was once one of the most polluted watersheds in America. Its well-documented and well-told stories are beacons of hope in difficult environmental times.”
—Dave Dempsey, Senior Advisor of FLOW and author of Great Lakes for Sale and Ruin and Recovery: Michigan's Rise as a Conservation Leader
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