The history of the two forests begins long before the creation of either forest. The land that is now Michigan was once an unbrokenforest, inhabited by numerous Native American tribes. After European settlement of the area, logging and farming became the main forms of occupation. Land that became the forests was heavily logged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The land that makes up the two forests is broken up by private land, especially on the Manistee National Forest. During the Great Depression land was bought by the Forest Service to help farmers and landowners and to inject money into the economy. However, some landowners only sold the unproductive land and kept the productive areas, thus breaking up the land purchases.
The Forest Service established the Huron National Forest in 1909. The Huron National Forest is 437,287 acres spreading 70 miles east to west and 30 miles north to south. The forest was renamed in 1929 after an Iroquoian tribe of the Great Lakes Region- the Huron's. The Manistee National Forest was established in 1938. The name comes from a Native American word meaning, "the whispering through the pines". The Manistee National Forest is 538,756 acres that spreads 40 miles east to west and 70 miles north to south. In 1945, the Huron National Forest and Manistee National Forest were joined for administrative purposes.
Additional information is avialable on the national forest website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/hmnf/home