07/24/2012 11:19 am ET | Updated Sep 23, 2012

July 24, 1701: Cadillac Lands

Today marks 311 years since Antoine Cadillac, after six weeks' voyage from Montreal, shored his canoe and founded Detroit for France. To celebrate, here's an excerpt from my book, Hidden History of Detroit, which includes a chapter on Cadillac, the self-styled Marquis du ville de Troit.

Bon anniversaire, you strange and wonderful city.

Detroiters like to begin this story on July 24, 1701, on the rough, weedy banks of the Detroit River. With daylight on the water and the wilderness humming with bugs, birds and fruit so fat you can hear it hanging from its branches, a fleet of 50 canoes glides up to the edge of the land.

Read more on Night Train To Detroit