South Haven is now called “the blueberry capital of the world.” Tom Renner says in the early 1900’s, the town was known for growing pears. In the 1950’s he says it was peaches. Renner says agriculture has been an important part of South Haven over the last 150 years.
A celebration to mark South Haven’s incorporation as a township is being held Friday May 10th at Stanley Johnston Park. It will include free food, entertainment and activities for children. Renner is a member of the Sesquicentennial Planning Group. A long-time resident of South Haven, he was part of the Centennial Planning Group in 1969.
South Haven’s economy has been tied to Lake Michigan for much of its history. Renner says ships brought people to the town from Chicago at the time South Haven was known as the “Catskills of the Midwest” during the heyday of the Jewish resort era. Renner says as more highways developed, steamer ships faded in the early 19040’s. Fishing on Lake Michigan shifted from commercial to recreational during the 1970’s.
Lake Michigan has also been the scene of tragedy. In 1915, the Eastland capsized as it was leaving Chicago for South Haven. Over 800 passengers died. Renner says that was a shock to South Haven because many of the people on ship were frequent visitors to the town.
South Haven became a village on May 10th 1869, by the early 1900’s it was incorporated as a city. Renner says they have chosen Friday, May 10th, 150 years to the day after its incorporation as a village to mark South Haven’s sesquicentennial.