The Town Known as “The Gateway to Michigan” – New Buffalo, Berrien County
Even though it's not quite at Michigan's doorstep, it's only 5 miles away from the Indiana border...it's the town that has been dubbed “The Gateway To Michigan” - New Buffalo, in the lower left corner of Berrien County.
It was in 1934 that Michigan officially recognized New Buffalo with that title. A tourist information center was built which kicked off out-of-state tourists on their discovery of Michigan. The main travel road at that time was US-12, which cut thru New Buffalo, and to this day is chock-full of historic places all across the state.
New Buffalo's beginnings were in 1834, when a vessel holding Wessel Whittaker and his crew shipped from Buffalo, New York through the Great Lakes bound for Chicago. They made it all through Lake Erie, up thru Lake Huron, around the Mackinac Straits and just about all the way down Lake Michigan. However, this was in November, and those November gales are brutal. Wessel's vessel lost control and the ship was thrown and beached along the eastern Lake Michigan shore. They ended up in (what is now called) Grand Beach, four miles south where New Buffalo was to be founded.
As the crew worked their way on foot heading north to St. Joseph to report their wreck, they arrived at a harbor that impressed Wessel so much, he thought it would give Chicago some competition. He returned a few months later, called his new community New Buffalo (after his NY hometown), and began building. All kinds and types of stores and businesses were constructed along with a few sawmills. As the economy grew, so did the number of settlers. Wisely, they soon learned that New Buffalo was becoming a destination for tourists. When the Michigan Central Railroad was laid between Niles and New Buffalo, that was it. Their town was now a tourist attraction.
The town continued to grow, and as mentioned above, it became Michigan's official “Gateway” in 1934. Check out the gallery below for vintage photos of New Buffalo!
The 'Gateway to Michigan' - New Buffalo