Located in Cass County, in Southwestern Michigan, Dowagiac is a close-knit community that prides itself on the quality of life it provides residents, while preserving its long and storied past.
Derived from the Potawatomi word for “fishing water,” Dowagiac was originally settled by the Potawatomi, Chippewa and Ottawa tribes. However, in 1821, the tribes ceded the land which today makes up Cass County, and settlers followed shortly. The land for Dowagiac was first platted in 1848, and the Michigan Central railroad laid track in the town, turning it into a wheat shipping station. The station grew so large that on wheat day, farmers would line up for blocks to unload their grain. Dowagiac was incorporated into a village in 1863, and fourteen years later, in 1877, it was incorporated as a city.
Dowagiac is served by the Dowagiac Union School District, which consists of six schools: four elementary, one middle school, and Dowagiac Union High School. M-51 and 62 connect Dowagiac to Niles and Interstate 94, as well as Cassopolis. Amtrak runs daily service between Detroit and Chicago from Dowagiac, and the town has a private airport. Dowagiac has one of the oldest Dial-A-Ride transportation services, the Dowagiac DART, which has been in existence for nearly 40 years. It operates both fixed routes and a Dial-A-Ride service, extending as far as Southwest Michigan College.
Dowagiac is home to the 5-Mile Drive-In Theater, one of the last remaining drive in theaters in the state. Lutz’s Drive-In Restaurant is located next door, and the two make for popular destinations in the summertime. Dowagiac is located in close proximity to the Sister Lakes in Keeler Township, making it a popular spot for visitors with summer homes on the lakes. Caruso’s Candy and Soda Shoppe, a Dowagiac staple since 1922, is located downtown, with a fully functional old fashioned soda fountain, as well as homemade candy.