Sault Ste. Marie is the oldest city in Michigan, and among the oldest cities in the United States. Over the course of our history, the flags of several sovereign nations have flown over the Sault.
Over 2,000 years ago, Native Americans began to gather here for the wealth of fish and fur found along the rushing waters of the wide, turbulent river that linked the Great Lakes of Superior and Huron. Spring and Fall were important seasons for these original settlers, and they called the area “Bahweting,” or, “The Gathering Place.”
The area’s first full-time residents lived in lodges framed of wood poles, sheathed with bark or animal hides. The river below the rapids provided an abundance of fish for Native peoples, as well as several tribes from throughout the region, who migrated here during the peak fishing season. It continues to remain a world-class spot for sport fishing.
In the 1600’s, French missionaries and fur traders began to venture into this beautiful territory. The traders began calling the wild area Sault du Gastogne. In 1668, the legendary Jesuit missionary and explorer Fr. Jacques Marquette renamed this burgeoning European settlement Sault Ste. Marie, in honor of the Virgin Mary—the first “city” in the Great Lakes region.