Saugatuck Springtime Scenes

A spring weekend getaway trip took me to the artsy Southwest Michigan village of Saugatuck. Located on both sides of the Kalamazoo River, this vibrant harbor town is a premier tourist destination near the shore of Lake Michigan. As usual, my photographer’s eye sought out scenes begging to be captured to document my memories of the visit. Here are some of the images that found their way into my camera’s viewfinder.

Kalamazoo Replica Lighthouse

Located on the eastern shore of Lake Kalamazoo in the neighboring town of Douglas, this small lighthouse called to me because I’d never seen it before. 

Kalamzoo Replica Lighthouse

Saugatuck once had a bonafide lighthouse marking the entrance to the Kalamazoo River, but that lighthouse no longer exists.

Original Kalamazoo River Lighthouse
Kalamzoo Replica Lighthouse
Kalamzoo Replica Lighthouse

The Star of Saugatuck

The Star of Saugatuck

The Star of Saugatuck is a paddlewheel tour boat based in Saugatuck. According to the Star of Saugatuck website,

The Star II seats 120 passengers and crew of 3 – one captain and one crew for cruises with 54 or less passengers and one captain and two crew for cruises over 55 passengers. She weighs in at 51 gross tons, 41 net tons, length 64 feet + 11 feet of paddlewheel for an overall length of 80 feet; she has a 21 foot beam, and draws about 3 feet of water. Her enclosed lower deck seats 40 passengers, while the upper deck seats 80 passengers, and has a partial canopy over the 2/3 of the deck.  On the lower deck you will find two spacious restrooms.

The Star is an authentic sternwheeler paddleboat. The cruise begins at our dock at 716 Water Street, where you’ll travel upwards on the Kalamazoo River into Lake Kalamazoo where you’ll see the picturesque town of Saugatuck by water, back down the river, where you’ll see boats of all shapes and sizes, cottages to million dollar homes, the natural beauty of the area, untouched by development, and entering majestic Lake Michigan, (we enter Lake Michigan with permitting conditions), and then returning back to our dock. Trips take approximately 90 minutes and there is a narration which points out local landmarks, points of interest, as well as some history and local lore of the area.

Douglas Root Beer Barrel Drive In

The Root Beer Barrel is a unique refreshment spot located in neighboring Douglas, MI.

The Root Beer Barrel
The Root Beer Barrel

The Saugatuck Wickwood Inn’s  webpage  tells the Root Beer Barrel’s story.

“The Douglas Root Beer Barrel Drive In (“the Barrel”) opened in 1952, serving generations of summer visitors foot-long hot dogs and root beer in frosted mugs. Tourists and locals alike flocked to this whimsical road-side attraction.

After closing in the mid-1970s, the Barrel slowly fell into disrepair. By 2011, the dilapidated structure was slated for demolition until a group of local citizens purchased the barrel for $1.00 and began a restoration project.

The Barrel was disassembled and transported to a workshop at the Old School House in Douglas. After more than 600 hours of volunteer labor, the 125 wood staves looked better than ever. A new ring and a steel support structure were fabricated by students in the Saugatuck High School Industrial Arts Program.”
~ Friends Of The Barrel

The restored and reconstructed Barrel is now open for business at the corner of Center and Ferry street in Douglas, right on the way to Oval Beach!

The Barrel’s Restoration
Root Beer Bottles and Mugs

Saugatuck Pump House

Given my love of museums, I seek them out when visiting an area to learn more about its history. The Saugatuck Pump House is one such small town museum, but my mid-April visit found it not yet opened for the season yet.

Saugatuck Pump House Museum

The Michigan Historical Marker next to the building tells its story.


The village of Saugatuck built this structure in 1904 to house the community’s first water pumps. The building’s construction cost about $720. The pumps were part of a water system designed by John W. Alvord, an engineer from Chicago. The two gas-powered pumps brought water from seven wells up to a 100,000-gallon reservoir, located at the top of Lone Pi, ne Dune. Gravity fed the water through pipes under the Kalamazoo River to Saugatuck’s buildings and fire hydrants.

But, finding the museum closed was not the end of the story. A notice informed visitors that they could view the museum exhibits online by using a free mobile app.

Saugatuck Douglas History Center App

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