Bald? Not recently, but when I first saw "Mt. Baldy" in thesummer of 1930, a seemingly endless slope of pure golden sand, sandwichedbetween green forests on each side and towering over them, it was beyond bald;it was naked,. To me, a child, it was the most glorious, the mosttremendous sandpile in the world, and a challenge Icouldn't ignore. Setting out to get to the top, I took giant steps, I crawled,scrambled, and inched my way. As every step forward slipped back at least halfthe distance, a strange cry could be heard underfoot, the kind of soundproduced on a beginner's violin. It was this half squeak, half musical notethat gave Saugatuck a name that means (according to some local lore) "thesinging sands." Associated with untouched and untraveledplaces, the magical sound is only rarely experienced today.
Baldheadtopside ca 1910
Once standing on the wind-smoothed dome, I felt like the first humanbeing to set foot on unexplored territory; there was no footprint other thanmine. On both sides, and below where I stood, the leafy treetops of theforested hills swayed and fluttered. The steep, almost glassy slope I hadclimbed held a few toilers less than half way up, and the meandering river atits base was bordered by a miniature village. To the west,
The exciting descent from this commanding height was even morememorable, especially to an active child. Leaping, sliding, and a few momentsof actual flying brought me all too speedily to the bottom,contributing, all unaware of course, to the glacier-like slippage andinexorable forward movement of the dune.
The "city fathers" of the 30's decade must have beenfearless, farseeing, and strong: they planned and implemented a number of huge,costly projects which had far-reaching effects. Of these, the problem of
Dramatic changes rarely take place speedily, but it was only one shortyear later, the following summer, when I found, to my great disappointment andserious displeasure, that the golden giant was now shackled and fettered likeGulliver among the Lilliputians. A wooden stairway (367 steps?) marched up thecenter, and staked bush and plantings webbed what had been a glistening,unblemished slide. The wide wind channel on the lake side had not been spared.Only a narrow service trail was left midway. Running down the sand ordisturbing it in any way was forbidden, except on a specially designated route.
Climbing the long stairway had already become and remained for manyyears an important resort activity. Paris had its Eiffel Tower, Saugatuck had
That the project pleased tourists was fortunate, but of course thepoint of it all was that the dune should be effectively stopped in its tracks,and it was. The massive conservation effort paid off. Mt. Baldhead no longerstands out from its wooded neighbors, nor even towers over them much. No onepicnicking in the park at its foot today could even imagine that it was oncenot only bald but dangerous, tamed by the determined townspeople of a littlemore than sixty years ago.
--Helen Gage DeSoto
[Featuringpublications on area history both present day and in the past. Offered as aguide and inspiration for those who peruse used book stores.]
Originaleditions of the History o f Allegan and
Last Tuesday night a party of neighbors entered the "House"on
It seems incredible that such flagrant lawlessness should go so long inour village unrebuked by the authorities. All winterthis woman who was expelled from Allegan for similar practices, has plied hershameful traffic on our streets, numbering among her victims many boys of from12 to 15 years.
The action of the people who engaged in the "moving" lastTuesday night is entirely justifiable. It is not the first time that [the man]has brought a lewd woman to this place and established her in the neighborhood,and if the people endure it another day they are deserving of all the shamethat attaches to such association.
The "ranch" on Lake Street was quite suddenly vacated by the inmateslast Thursday night, their decision to quit being promoted somewhat by a callfrom a party of "housecleaners." As is usual in such cases theevictors of the unsavory pair did not stop short of the demolition of someproperty in order to insure the neighborhood a riddance of them. ... The womanwas sent to the