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History Lives Here Text

New YorkReporter Describes a Trip to Saugatuck in 1853

In the fall of 1853a reporter for the New York Tribune visitedwestern Michiganand wrote an account of the journey in the issue of October 8, 1853.




ca 1865 Anetching from the west bank of the Kalamazoo.


I have just returned from a visit to the Kalamazoo Valleyregion and a trip to the HollandColony. Left the Michigan Central Railroad cars at Kalamazoo, a mostflourishing town, the center of an extensive trade with the farming districtsin that vicinity, and took the stage for Allegan village, passing through thevillage of Otsego, which begins to show signs of progress. Reached Allegan, thecounty site, the next day, and spent several days there most agreeably. Thevillage is beautifully situated on a peninsula formed by the Kalamazoo. There is an excellent water power,many manufacturing establishments, a considerable traffic by merchants with thepeople of the adjoining towns, and a large quantity of lumber exported to themouth of the river, and thence to several lake ports. The lumbering business isnow a most profitable one on account of the large demand in Illinois and Wisconsin for timber boards, shingles, sash, etc. But the harbor at the mouth of the Kalamazoo is a miserableone. In the summer season the bar across the mouth of the river is about fivefeet deep and impassable for the larger crafts. The products of Alleganindustry are obliged to be taken outside the bar by lighters thus greatlyincreasing the cost of transportation and detaining the vessels. Otherwise theharbor is naturally a most excellent one, the river being navigable forsteamboats to Allegan and quite deep on both sides of the bar. The river widensin a lake at Newarkvillage. Hundreds of lives are annual lost by gales on the lake and severalwrecks occur at the mouth of the Kalamazoo.A vessel and her crew were reported missing when I was leaving Allegan Countyon my return to Detroit.With a good harbor and a railroad to Kalamazoo,the products of Michigan would obtain goodmarkets and the resources of Allegan County would be greatlyincreased and its business extended.

While at Allegan I took a jaunt to the Holland colony, twenty-two miles to the northwestaccompanied by the coroner of Allegan, in a team of the sheriff's, and arrivedat Holland City in six hours taking the Beeline Road.Passed through a fine farming country, some of the best timbered land in thestate, and except at the village of Holland (Black Lake) where the land ispiney, the soil is much of the same quality throughout the Colony. Thesettlement in the neighborhood of Black Lake was commenced by the Rev. Mr. A.C. Van Raalte in February 1847 by some of the friendsof a party of persecuted Hollands, who had spent thepreceding winter in Detroit and Allegan until they could make preparations toclear the lands they had purchased.-by D. C. H.


by Bill Kemperman


Whimsical map of Saugatuck ca 1948


One of the recent donations to the Saugatuck-DouglasHistorical Society archives is a framed colored map of Saugatuck Douglas fromthe 1940s.


If you have ever been in the Auction Houserestaurant in Douglas there is one like it bythe door as your leave. It is very nicely done with little drawings all over itdepicting buildings and activities. It shows the old Big Pool north of town, and on a site near there where a home stands now itshows Chinese money plants growing. They still bloom in that spot every year.


The poster is signed by MaridanRichter and has the insignia of River Guild, an association of artists andcraftspeople that opened a workshop and gallery in an old lumber companybuilding in Douglas, later Gray Gables, now Joyce Petter Gallery. The mapwas found in the basement of the residence of Rev. Joe Hills at Presbyterian Camps.


This map and several others: a 1928 versionby Fred Steams, a 1966 edition by Henry Niles, two different illustrated mapspublished in 1969 and 1973 by Deb Hoffman, a 1982 colored map done by Bob Careyand a 1984 map by Martha Severt will be included inthis summer's exhibit on Saugatuck art. There will also be a wood block map of Western Michigan done by Hollyhock House proprietor EmilyLamb and several other specialty maps in the exhibit.