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History Lives Here Text

Kalamazoo Riverand Saugatuck Harbor in 1931


At the village of Saugatuck,located about 2 miles above the mouth of the river on Kalamazoo Lake,a body of water about 3,400 feet long and 2,000 feet wide, there are severallanding places for small steamboats and one for translakeboats. At the village of Douglas, located onthe south shore of the lake, there is a steamboat pier. These terminalfacilities are available for general use, and, though none of them haverailroad connection, are adequate for the existing traffic, which is entirelylocal in character. The greater part of Kalamazoo Lake is shallow, about three-fourths of the area being lessthan 13 feet deep, but suitable frontage in the vicinity of Saugatuck could beeasily developed should a need for additional terminal facilities arise. Thereare no public wharves at Saugatuck Harbor.


The commerceof the harbor has never been heavy, the average tonnage handled for the past 36years being only 12,215 tons. During the past five years the commerce has been1200 to 1,678 tons annually,consisting principally of shipments of fruits and vegetables,,and receipts of sand and gravel. In 1926 a regular line of package-freightsteamers operated triweekly between Saugatuck andChicago from June to September, but only 150 tons of freight werehandled at the harbor on these trips. In 1927 and 1928 the channel was notmaintained and no regular boat line operated from the harbor. In 1929 regularservice to Chicagowas, resumed for the summer months, 12 trips being made, but receipts andshipments by this service amounted to only .797 tons. Regularservice was again abandoned in 1930. The principal commodities handled inrecent years have been fresh fruits and vegetables, grown locally and shippedto the Chicagomarkets, and sand and gravel received for road construction in the vicinity.The week-end sailings of the regular steamers when operated were arrangedchiefly for the convenience of passengers going to and from the many summerresorts in this region and were not suitable for the fruit and vegetableproducts which must reach the market quickly. Consequently, much of thisbusiness has been diverted to Holland Harbor, 7 rules to the north, and South Haven Harbor, 19 miles to thesouth, from which daily shipments can be made.



A map reprinted from a report from the Chief of Engineers, U. S Army,to the U. S Horse of Representatives, on January 15, 1932. This was before the Blue Star Highwaywas built, when Maple Streetwas the major north-south street in Saugatuck. Notein text mention of the last regular passenger service which had ended in 1929.