This is a very attractive and seldom visited location in the Detroit metropolis. If you are interested in birds, this site may be worth a visit. The Pointe Mouillee State Game Area consists of 4,040 acres of coastal wetlands near Lake Erie at the mouth of the Huron River. The area was named, apparently by French fur traders in the Eighteenth Century. Literally translated, it means “wet point.” I have often noticed that the French explorers and early French residents gave very explicit names to locations in this area: Detroit for the site of Fort Ponchatrain, Grosse Ile for the large nearby island and Grosse Pointe for the location northeast of Detroit. Perhaps it the era before sky satellites and GPS system, it was useful to give a place an unambiguous name.
The recent history of this marsh dates to 1875 when a group of prosperous men purchased two thousand acres here and established the Pointe Mouillee Shooting Club. I infer that had attractive facilities here such that they could come here and enjoy a weekend of hunting fowls and land animals. In 1945, the State of Michigan purchased 2,600 acres from the Pointe Mouillee Shooting Club and established the Pointe Mouillee Game Area. This included Celeron Island but that land eroded away. Subsequently, the Army Corps of Engineers designed this site as a disposal location for materials they dredged from harbors but deemed too contaminated to dump directly into the Great Lakes. They reshaped much of this area and added about 700 acres as a result of their program for depositing contaminates here. They built about 5.6 kilometers of dykes to protect the land they created.
This site is on the Lake Erie flyway for ducks and geese. Most of the Pointe Mouillee Game area is open for hunting in season. This is also a popular area for birdwatchers who can walk upon the Army Corps of Engineer dykes. At one time many muskrats were trapped here and sold for consumption. Local tradition among Catholics in the Downriver area held that muskrats were fish not meat. So during Lent and on Friday, when a Church commandment prohibited the consumption of meat, local Catholics ate the muskrats they caught or purchased from local trappers. I have cooked and consumed muskrat. I understand why it is not served by Colonel Saunders or at McDonalds.
This is a very attractive marsh area. I took the picture of the historical marker while on a bicycle ride on a beautiful Michigan spring Sunday. The Pointe Mouillee Game Area is located in Berlin Township in Monroe County in what the Census Bureau now defines as the Monroe Micropolitan Area. A waterfowl festival is held at this site annually on the September week-end that follows Labor Day.
National Register of Historic Places: Not listed
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Places: P25,345 Listed February, 15, 1990
State of Michigan Historic Marker: Erected July 5, 1990
Use in 2014: Wildlife area maintained by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Website for the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources: http://www.dnr.state.mi.us/publications/pdfs/wildlife/viewingguide/slp/107Mouillee/index.htm
Website for listed of 294 species of birds documented at Pointe Mouillee:
Photograph of historical marker: Ren Farley, May 4, 2008
Description prepared: June, 2014
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