Sept 20, 2006

obslogo.jpg (10497 bytes)

Dick and friend with the newly created La Carousel.

Dick posing with the brand new Island Queen in 1954. The La Carousel can be seen on the river bank across the river.

1953 the La Carousel is christened with the Meyers twins and Bonnie Sewers looking on.

The Waugun near the ends of her days
ca 1948

La Carousel approaching New Richmond.


Last week we featured the upriver Kalamazoo and a few of the early riverboats around the turn of the century. Fifty years passed, the river boats and crusty captains faded into history -, Dick Hoffman a talented young man just finished a four year tour with the Coast Guard was looking for a way to earn a living on the banks of the Kalamazoo. The old beach boat the Waugon was lying at the end of Lucy St. and for sale cheap. Dick converted her to a stern wheel paddleboat suitable for New Richmond trips and - just like that - he started a business that would become a Saugatuck fixture.

The next summer, Hoffman revived the river scenic tour business with the rebuilt Waugon. He named her La Carousel, meaning the wheel. In an interview with Kit Lane years later, Dick told an amusing story which captures the flavor of his early business:

"I ran that boat and one day I sunk it coming down the river….caught the rudder, one of two rudders, on a snag and it pulled right out of the boat, I went back there to pick up the hatch to see what was wrong and here was this fountain of water coming up…. a great big fountain. I closed the cover quickly. As the rudders were locked off center, I just put the wheel in gear and ran it ashore where it would go… we weren't under yet but I told the people that we would be, and they had to get off. It was not too deep, but we had twelve ladies from a bridge club, and a family of five, and we were maybe a couple of miles from New Richmond, at least. These were ladies of some weight. I had to carry those ladies from the boat to the bank… we walked back through the woods. If you have ever been in that woods, it is a carpet of poison ivy. Gary Diepenhorst was with me at the time, as sort of a crew; he was fishing as we went along. He said, "Is that poison ivy?" I said, "Sssh don't say a word." And those ladies walked through all that poison ivy back to the little store in New Richmond… and you know I never heard of one of them getting poison ivy."                        by Jack Sheridan

Click on view all to see the Remembering When ...  library

Click here to return to the Pictorial History home page

Click here to return to the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society home page