Lost Town Of Singapore Michigan
I worked as a South Haven bureau reporter for the former News-Palladium newspaper at Benton Harbor, Michigan, I met an elderly
man living in the Douglas/Saugatuck area who had a strange story to tell.
that in his youth he remembered a third lumber town that existed along the Lake Michigan shoreline, not far from the location
of Douglas and Saugatuck, that still exists, but has been buried by shifting sand dunes.
of Singapore has been well documented now, and is part of the local heritage. But at the time I met this old native and heard
his story, the memory and almost all trace of the town was not only buried, but nearly forgotten.
in 1836 by Oshea Wilder, a New York businessman, Singapore was considered the more prominent of the local lumber camps in
its day. The lumber barons set up their operations in the area because of the great pine forests that existed there. In its
hey-day, Singapore boasted at least three mills, two saw mills, a general store, a schoolhouse, a large boarding house, several
houses, a bank and a cemetery. Some say at least 23 buildings may still be standing under the great dunes of sand.
became large enough that it became a platted village. There were boardwalks that connected the stores.
along the Kalamazoo River and near the shore of Lake Michigan, Singapore also became a small lake port community with a dock
extended out into Lake Michigan where ships moored to load lumber, much of it bound for Chicago. There was even a lighthouse
erected on the coast.
became what some historians call “Michigan’s Pompeii” after it was buried under the dunes of sand. How could
that have happened?
of the town is the thing that has made the very name of Singapore, Michigan, a unique part of Michigan’s history. The
fires of 1871 burned Chicago, Holland and Peshtigo, so the demand for lumber to rebuild these cities was high. The lumber
barons stripped the forests in and around Singapore in their rush to cash in on this demand.
the protective tree cover, the winds and sand blowing up from Lake Michigan began eroding the town. The old man I talked to
said the dunes began building up around the houses and buildings, then burying them one-by-one. Nothing could be done to stop
the march of the moving dunes. By 1875 Singapore was almost completely deserted.
remains today one of the nation’s more famous ghost towns. If not crushed by the weight of the sand, some of the old
buildings may still stand intact, especially if the sand got into the windows and doors and filled the interiors.
town remains buried under the dunes. Only remnants, like portions of the old dock, are to be seen today. Even the lighthouse
that stood at the coast is gone. It was destroyed by a tornado.