Latitude / Longitude:
42° 40′ 40″ N, 86° 12′ 36″ W
Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
Singapore, perhaps Michigan’s most famous ghost town, is one of the casualties of the four great fires (Chicago, Holland, Peshtigo, and Manistee) that ravaged the northern midwest on October 8, 1871. Its ruins now lie buried beneath the sand dunes of the Lake Michigan shoreline at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River in Saugatuck Township, near the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas in Allegan.
Singapore, Michigan, was founded in 1836 by New York land speculator Oshea Wilder, who was hoping to build a port town to rival Chicago and Milwaukee. At its height, the town boasted of three mills, two hotels, several general stores, a renowned bank, and was home to Michigan’s first schoolhouse. In total, the town consisted of 23 buildings and two sawmills.
Today, Singapore lives on only in the name of the Singapore Yacht Club, which is at one end of town. Just as the “cow kicking over the lantern” story was born out of the Great Chicago Fire, this event also gave birth to a legend. The story persists that one resident of Singapore refused to move, even as the sand enveloped his home. Eventually he had to enter and leave the dwelling by a second floor window, and he stayed until the sand reached the roof.
The 40-Day Blizzard of 1842 might very well have wiped out the people of Singapore, had it not been for the shipwreck of the Milwaukie just off her shore. The food with which that ship was stocked nourished the people of Singapore until the blizzard blew over. After the fires which swept through Chicago, Holland, and Peshtigo in late 1871, Singapore was almost completely deforested supplying the three towns with lumber for rebuilding. Without the protective tree cover, the winds and sands coming off Lake Michigan quickly eroded the town into ruins and within four years had completely covered it over. The town was vacated by 1875.