Settled in 1831, Battle Creek began to develop after 1835, when entrepreneur Sands McCamly built a dam, a power canal, and a sawmill on the Kalamazoo River. The village was platted in 1836 and incorporated as a village in 1850. It became a city in 1859 following the completion of the Michigan Central Railroad (later the Grand Trunk) through town in 1845. The opening in 1873 of a second, competing line, the Chicago and Lake Huron, led to lower freight rates, which, along with other factors, contributed to an industrial boom in Battle Creek.
The Seventh-Day Adventist Church established its national headquarters here in the late 1850s after residents offered the denomination's founders, James and Ellen White, assistance in setting up their newspaper. The Adventist headquarters and its substantial publishing business remained in the city until c. 1902. In 1866 the Adventists founded a hydropathic and dietary cure institution that Dr. John Harvey Kellogg took over in 1876 and reorganized as the Battle Creek Sanitarium ( CA9).
Battle Creek's reputation as the “Cereal City” began in 1894 with John H. and W. K. Kellogg's invention of Granose, the first flaked breakfast cereal, and Charles W. Post's development of Postum, a cereal coffee. By 1906, Post was marketing his Grape Nuts and Post Toasties, and W. K. Kellogg's Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company (now simply Kellogg's), its Toasted Corn Flakes. Today, Kellogg's, the Post Division of General Foods, and Ralston Purina all have large plants and grain elevators on Battle Creek's southeast side. Kellogg's is the city's largest employer.
The architectural character of Battle Creek derives in large part from the presence and benevolence of the Kellogg family, who saw to it that the city was endowed with significant civic buildings. Railroad depots and industrial buildings appeared in response to the needs of the cereal manufacturers, and the sanitariums promoted the cereal products. A fine residential section is in the northeast sector of the city.
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