Sept 7, 2006

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The Lady May, a cute sidewheeler which ran small groups mostly
between Allegan and New Richmond in the 1890s.

Another photo of the Lady May

The A. R. Heath, a steam powered sidewheeler owned by Doc Heath, unloading passengers
in Saugatuck ca 1905

Another photo of the A. R. Heath

The shirt news article (inset below) appeared o the front page of the4 Commercial Record in May 1906.

The Arthur, gasoline engine turning the sternwheel, ca 1907,
cruising just above Douglas.


Hardly altered in a two centuries of recorded history - the Kalamazoo River between Douglas and New Richmond is a grand piece of nature’s work. Swirled water, cloistered by green woods, slowly eats the shoreline until tall trees fall, their trunks lurking just below the surface like alligators stalking dinner. The muddy river narrows and widens, winds and rewinds, snaking over sand bars and by bayous. Blue Herons stand stilted, Blackbirds screech, Eagles and Turkey Vultures float above grassy swamps, white tail deer study your every movement. The delta area just above the freeway bridge might be a set for a remake of the “African Queen”. Hidden in tall grass the shallow channel has opened, divided, and changed course endlessly.

The River has been the route of plodding paddle-wheeled boats for nearly 150 years. In the beginning, the ride was the best way to move passengers, cargo and fresh fruit from Richmond and Allegan downriver to the Lake steamers. Later, between sleepy New Richmond and bustling Saugatuck the trip was made for the pure pleasure of the ride.

Shallow water made the venture a challenge for boat owners. Water levels fluctuated with that of Lake Michigan from a comfortable (and profitable) level to just enough to float a log.                                  by Jack Sheridan

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