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Walking Tour Guidebook


A Saugatuck Walking Tour

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The introduction from the tour: A BRIEF HISTORY In 1830, when William G Butler and his family arrived at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River, West Michigan was sparsely populated with fur traders and native Americans. Butler moved a few miles upriver to the seasonal Indian village, now named Saugatuck, and set up a small trading post. Around that time land speculators established Singapore, a lumber town, near the mouth of the Kalamazoo. After the tree supply was exhausted, Singapore became a ghost town. It has been covered by shifting sand dunes. The settlements of Saugatuck and Douglas grew slowly until the 1860s. In this decade major harbor improvements led to large ship building operations and the beginning of tourism. A bridge was built crossing the Kalamazoo River, steam engines came into use, and the area's first church was built. Saugatuck was incorporated in 1868; Douglas two years later. Following the lumber era, fruit farming developed and made use of steamships to transport crops to Chicago. Around the turn of the century, the Interurban railroad connected Saugatuck to Grand Rapids and a new channel to Lake Michigan was cut, opening the harbor to larger ships and excursion boats. The natural beauty of the area has continued to attract artists and visitors throughout the twentieth century.