Located in Cass County, in Southwestern Michigan, Vandalia is a small farming community situated on less than one square mile and tucked into the picturesque countryside of Penn Township.
Cass County was originally inhabited by the Potawatomi Indians, and European settlers began to arrive in the 1820’s. The county, named after former Michigan Governor Lewis Cass, was organized in 1829. In 1848, Stephen Bogue and Charles Ball began the first settlement in present-day Vandalia, when they built a gristmill. Vandalia got its first real taste of industry in 1871 when the Michigan Central Railroad laid railroad track and built a station in the town, and it was incorporated four years later in 1875.
By 1882, Vandalia already had established itself with an impressive number of businesses for such a small town, including two general stores, two hardware stores, two millineries, two blacksmith shops, two hotels, three combination drug and grocery stores, a dry goods and clothing store, not to mention a drug store, clothing store, furniture, stationery, harness, cooper shop, wagon, shoemaker, butcher shop, foundry, livery and bank.
Vandalia residents are served by the Cassopolis School District, which is comprised of an elementary school, and a junior/senior high school. The district also boasts the Squires Educational Center, which is used primarily for alternative/adult education for those 16 years of age and older. The village is located 11 miles north of the Indiana/Michigan border, and Michigan Highway 60 runs through downtown, providing east-west access across the state.
Vandalia is a historic town, most notable for the fact that it hosted a station on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves escape to freedom in Canada. To this day, Vandalia embraces its role in liberating the slaves, and there is an Underground Railroad memorial sign at Milo E. Barnes Park in downtown Vandalia.
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