Located along the Paw Paw River, Watervliet first appears to be a small, rural, farming community. However, the Paw Paw Lakes, among other amenities, have made this area a popular tourist destination for all seasons, making Watervliet a wonderful place to live, work, and play year-round.
Watervliet was founded by two partners, Mr. Sumner and Mr. Wheeler, when they built a sawmill on the Paw Paw River in 1833, and called it “Waterford.” In 1849, a post office was established in the town, and this required a name change, as “Waterford” had already been claimed as a town name. The original sawmill was eventually torn down, and a paper mill was built in its place. This mill became the defining business in Watervliet for the duration of the 20th century. As the timber industry wound down, farming quickly grew to become the main industry in Watervliet, growing apples and peaches.
The Watervliet School District serves the town, and is comprised of four schools, the largest being Watervliet High School, home to nearly 500 students. St. Joseph Catholic School and Grace Christian School are also located in Watervliet, providing a private education alternative for residents. The town is located just off Interstate 94, allowing easy travel to Chicago and Detroit, and is a short distance from a half dozen daily Amtrak services in Berrien County.
Watervliet has numerous attractions and recreational facilities. Its two city parks offer basketball courts, baseball/softball diamonds, playgrounds, a skate park, picnic area, along with a sledding hill and ice rink for the winter. For watersports, a canoe launch and fishing pier are centrally located. A disc golf course is a recent addition, and is regarded by many to be one of the key destinations in this beautiful town.