Allegan, located on both sides of the Kalamazoo River, is one of the most picturesque sites in the State. Allegan residents are proud of their historical heritage. Allegan was founded with a vision. When Elisha Ely settled on the bank of the Kalamazoo River in 1833, he quickly realized the potential for waterpower and transportation supplied by the river. Eastern backers, Samuel Hubbard, Charles Trowbridge, Pliny Cutler, and Edmund Monroe purchased land and formed the "Boston Company". They envisioned Allegan as a manufacturing and shipping hub to rival Chicago.
The water power potential of the river was quickly harnessed by the early settlers in 1935 by building a dam in the present milling district. The first industry was a sawmill. Since then, many industries have flourished in Allegan making such products as doors, caskets, fine furniture, ships, wooden pails, carriages, wagons, paper products, plate glass, and farm machinery. One of the most interesting products of Allegan was the Carnelian automobile. In 1914, Howard Blood bought the old plate glass factory on Glass Street, and in conjunction with Louis Chevrolet began to manufacture a racy little chain drive car that sold quickly. Less than 20 of the automobiles were made when production ceased.
Allegan is also home to one of the largest extant bridges. A simple ornamental style wrought iron bridge replaced an earlier structure at an ancient Indian ford across the Kalamazoo River. Citizens and city officials rescued it from demolition, restoring it in 1983. Allegan received national recognition in receiving the President and The National Historic Preservation Award - one of fifteen such honors in the United States.
Allegan invites visitors as well as residents to revisit our early days. The narrated Allegan Historical Bus Tour will provide you with a glimpse into our past as you pass the old Victorian, Gothic Revival, Romanesque and Old English style buildings. You'll see the one room school house and old jail. You'll pass by the first Allegan hospital and community auditorium. Hear about General Pritchard as you look upon his family home. All this and more await you as you travel along Allegan's historic streets.
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