History of Conner Creek

Algonquin couple

History of Conner Creek Conner Creek once flowed from what is now the City of Warren to the Detroit River. It was a significant natural feature for Native Americans and European settlers. The Algonquin tribe was predominant among several Native American inhabitants. This tribe was typically nomadic and followed the migration of birds and fish or other available food sources such as fruits and berries. Early French surveyors named the creek “Riviere du Grand Marais” (River of the Great Marsh). Then it became known as Trombley’s Creek after a French settler. In 1840, the creek was formally named Conner Creek in honor of local landowner Henry Conner. As European settlers moved into the area, the landscape began to change. The marsh was drained and sold as lots for farming and settlement by Colonel Philetus W. Norris, a legendary and colorful frontiersman who explored much of Yellowstone National Park and became its second superintendent. In 1873 he established the Village of Norris between the forks of the Conner Creek (near what is now Nevada and Mt. Elliott). Mills were constructed along the creek, and the forest was removed to make room for farming. Ribbon farms dominated the landscape along the creek and the Detroit River to maximize landowners’ access to the water.

Colonel Philetus W. Norris

In time, the old Indian trails and village plank roads gave way to railroads and other developments. The Detroit Terminal Railroad, constructed parallel to the creek, attracted industries such as Detroit Edison, Chrysler, Hudson Motor Car, Continental Motors, Budd, and Fruehauf. The DaimlerChrysler Jefferson Avenue Plant and other facilities were constructed over the creek. The partial containment of the creek did not eliminate flooding and a parkway was designed by the city to help alleviate damage. Construction of the Detroit City Airport and 1-94 led to the sale of parkway land. Today, the creek flows underground to the Jefferson Avenue Conner Creek r Pumping Station of the Detroit f\ £ Water and Sewerage Department and the Greenway generally follows its historic route to connect residents, neighborhoods and commerce via landscaped paths and bike trails instead of by water.