The Kalamazoo River stretches 178 miles, from Hillsdale County to Lake Michigan. The river winds its way through southwest Michigan, providing opportunities for recreation, including kayaking and fishing. Settlements along the river have a rich history that began with Native Americans and European settlers. In the early 1900s, several dams were built along the river for hydroelectric power, leading to many mills (lumber, flour, grist, and paper) dotting its banks. This ushered in an industrial era along the river. For many years, the river and its surrounding land were the primary places for business waste disposal, which jeopardized aquatic communities. In the 1960s, people demanded better water quality, and environmental laws were passed in the 1970s. Derelict hydroelectric dams along the Kalamazoo River are now being removed to restore the river's natural flow and its aquatic life. Come along as the Kalamazoo River's past is revealed.
Lisa M. DeChano-Cook and Mary L. Brooks, both from Western Michigan University, Department of Geography, discovered they had a mutual interest in the Kalamazoo River, environmental issues, and other local history. The images for this book came from the many historical societies, libraries, and private citizens that can be found along the Kalamazoo River.