Monday, May 11, 2015


This blog of Thomas Carlson will be open for a time, but will not make new posts or take more comments. Thanks very much for visiting. Tom and I, his wife Kay, thank the Lord for the opportunities He has given us to write.

Update: Tom passed away from advanced Parkinson's in 2017. See our profile for more details about his life.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Some Farmer's Market History

A scene at the Farmer's Market, summer 1945.
 Early Farmer's Market, September, 1921. Located at Eastern Ave and Ottawa St.
As the work on the new site for the Farmer’s Market continues downtown, it’s a good time to review some history of this treasured Muskegon institution.

It seems the Farmer’s Market is only about 90 years old, but hay and wood markets operated much before that, in fact as early as 1867. These were generally located at the junction of Eastern Avenue and Clay and Ottawa streets, or about a block and a half from the present location.

In June of 1921 the Muskegon City Commission passed an ordinance formally establishing a market for farmers to sell produce. The Eastern Avenue location was retained for that purpose. There were no stalls or buildings at that time. Farmers generally sold their goods off the backs of their trucks or cars, or set up temporary tables. The market was held two or three times a week and prospered almost from the start.

In 1935 slum property was purchased and cleared on Webster Avenue between Cedar and Spring streets for a new market site. This was part of a WPA project to make jobs during the worst of the Great Depression. Covered stalls were built at that time, although some of the walkways for customers were not covered. Farmers came from towns such as Hart and Newaygo and as far away as Grand Rapids. They sold both wholesale and retail. Many local grocery stores (especially those of the Mom and Pop variety) purchased all their produce from the Farmer’s Market before their own stores opened, and at wholesale prices. The market usually started at 6AM back then.

In 1964 the City rebuilt the Farmer’s Market at its present location, taking over property which had been occupied by Muskegon Rag and Metal. About that time there were complaints from farmers that many sellers at the market were not farmers at all, but “hucksters.” In answer to those complaints the City tried a flea market at the facility one day a week, beginning in August of 1967. The flea market proved to be an immediate success and continues to this day.

Whether the new site proves successful is anybody’s guess. Many of the farmers opposed the move, and might boycott the new location. Let’s hope for the best.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fireworks Restricted

      In 1910, the Muskegon city council began a campaign to restrict the sale and use of fireworks locally.  A new city ordnance specified the devices to be banned.  Apparentlly in years past the use of fireworks had resulted in many accidents on the Fourth of July.  The cartoon on the front page of the June 28th  Muskegon Chronicle illustrated some of the past carnage.   It is interesting to note that fire-crackers up to 5 inches in length would still be legal.