Aug 17, 2005

obsindx.jpg (12344 bytes)

(click on the map for a larger image)
Map of Pier Cove ca 1860 - drawn by Bob Simonds.
The path of Lake Shore Drive today follows North Main, Pier and South Lake Streets

Ben Plummer
ca 1875

Ca 1890 - The mill on the creek was built ca 1852, closed after the dam washed out in 1881 but was a landmark until collapse in 1915

Ca 1895 -  A vessel approaching the
north pier. The building on the right
is the warehouse.



Ben Plummer was the first in the area about 1847 when he built a sawmill on the creek about a mile south of what is now Pier Cove.  Near the sawmill, O. R. Johnson, F. B. Wallin and Stephen Morrison owned and operated—at separate times—a tannery there. These early settlers were tanners and lumbermen of means who were a powerful force for thirty years in various Singapore and Saugatuck area enterprises.

In 1848, near a small creek just a mile up the road, a small village, later named Pier Cove, started up and grew in a burst of frontier energy: 1849 First settlers - 1852 Sawmill established - 1853 Turning mill started - 1854 Post office established - 1855 Nichols home built (still exists)- 1860 High point for Pier Cove.

The first settler was Marcius Sutherland who proceeded to build a 200 foot pier. Then Sidney Squires rebuilt a small sawmill that had been brought up from Battle Creek. Seizing on the growing economic opportunity, Charles Richards dammed up the creek and built a turning  and grist mill. So Pier Cove got its start and by 1860 included stores, churches and a saloon.

The focus of the activity was cordwood, lumbering and tanning businesses. Raw hides were imported from Chicago, tanned (local hemlock bark was key to the tanning process) and shipped back along with cordwood and milled lumber. Business really boomed after the 1871 Chicago fire, though by the late 70s the big pines and the hemlocks had been harvested, spelling the end for the sawmills and the tanneries.

Farms began to take over the once forested countryside and farmers soon cultivated the next boom product—the peach!  That is another story…     by Jack Sheridan

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