East Jordan was founded sometime in the 1870's when a logging mill was built along the Jordan River near the town. The town grew quickly, and by 1890, it boasted a large Iron Works ( the East Jordan Iron works still operates today), a feed mill, and a population of nearly 1000. By the turn of the century, the city was being serviced by two railroads. With these two railroad connections, East Jordan quickly grew into a major manufacturing center. Even to this day, 4 large industrial corporations still operate within the town.
In 1899, the Detroit and Charlevoix Railroad built their mainline through the East side of the city, and in 1901 the East Jordan and Southern Railway began operations on the western end of the town. With these two railroad connections, East Jordan quickly grew into a major manufacturing center. In 1932, the Detroit and Charlevoix was abandoned, and the East Jordan and Southern followed suit in 1962.