The area was first settled by the Potawatomi and Iroquois tribes, and the first white settlers arrived in the 1850s, to work in the sawmills along the Black River. The growth of the mills caused residents to flock to the area, and a hotel and bank were both built in the middle of the century. As the shipping and farming industries continued to grow, so did the county, especially towns that sat along the edge of Lake Michigan, like South Haven.
The community is served by the South Haven Public School District, which consists of three elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. South Haven Career and Early College Academy is also a part of the district, which offers alternative education for “underserved and disconnected students,” to help prepare them for their careers or higher education. South Haven has 24 hour taxi services, as well as two ferries offering transportation to Milwaukee and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Daily Amtrak service is available from Bangor, and the South Shore Line provides service between South Bend and Chicago.
Thanks to its harbor and beaches, the area is often referred to as “The Catskills of the Midwest.” One major year round attraction Kal-Haven Trail, a 33.5 mile bicycle and snowmobile trail that runs through the county, beginning in South Haven and terminating in Kalamazoo. The county hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, with the majority of these taking place in South Haven, due to its location along the waterfront. These include: The Ice Breaker Festival, Harborfest, 4th of July fireworks display, summer art shows, and the crown jewel, the National Blueberry Festival. Held in South Haven, the self-proclaimed “Blueberry Capital of the World,” this festival held in early August draws thousands of visitors, and is a weekend filled with a wide array of activities for all.
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