|Why Lake Township Is a Great Place to Call Home
Lake Charter Township is located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Southwestern Michigan just 20 miles or so north of the Indiana border. I-94 provides easy access from exit 16 to major metropolitan areas of Chicago (85 miles) or Grand Rapids (100 miles).
The Township is the home of the Cook Nuclear Power Plant and Warren Dunes State Park. Warren Dunes offers 1952 acres of land, three miles of beautiful sugar sand beaches, six miles of trails, 182 modern camp sites, and numerous special programs. The park is slated for a major renovation project of buildings, parking areas, and other improvements in 2015. These amenities attract an estimated 1 ½ million visitors annually making it the most visited State Park in Michigan!
The Township also has its own community park located at Snow and Gast Roads in the southern part of the Township only a few miles from Bridgman. It offers 3 pavilions to rent, an 18 hole disc golf course, baseball and softball fields, and soccer fields. It is a great place to relax by the pond or have a family gathering (see more information on the park page). The Township is mostly rural in nature but has many u pick fruit farms and other businesses. Local school districts are highly rated and Lake Charter Township is a great community to call home.
Our taxes and utility rates are some of the lowest in the area. Water and sewer is available nearly everywhere in the Township as well as natural gas and other utilities. Please come and visit during the festivals or just to spend a day (and sunset) on beautiful Lake Michigan! Lake Township has many miles of beautiful shoreline, several parks, wooded dunes and fertile farmland. It is truly a beautiful place to live.
The Lake Township region once consisted of sand dunes, swamps, and woodlands. Explorers made their way to the area through Quebec by means of the Great Lakes and their adjoining rivers. Permanent settlers appeared on the scene 150 years after the French explorations.
Soon a small community called "Laketon" began to form just north and east of the present city of Bridgman. In 1846, the area that would be known as Lake Township was separated from Oronoko Township. Lake Township was later divided into Lake and Baroda Township, resulting in a final size of only about 23 square miles. The first election was held at the home of Benjamin Lemon, an early pioneer, with a total of 18 votes cast.
In the fall of 1856, George Bridgman along with his partners Warren Howe and Charles F. Howe formed the Charlotte Lumber Company. A large stem powered sawmill was set up near the present intersection of Lake Street and Red Arrow Highway. Unfortunately, fire destroyed this mill in 1863 and two subsequent mills that were built. After the mills were destroyed Howes moved on to other pursuits.
George Bridgman decided to stay in the area and along with other residents began growing fruit, grapes and berry plants. In 1869 he entered into an agreement with the Chicago Michigan and Lakeshore Railroad, granting the company right of way across his land. In return for that, along with a reliable water supply, the railroad agreed to erect and maintain a depot. In 1871 the depot was erected and the railroad assigned the name of "Bridgman". The post office designation changed to Bridgman the same year.
Easy access to Lake Michigan and the abundance of wood made lumbering the first commercial interest in the Township. By 1870 several sawmills were in operation. A much-needed railroad and a pier were built, which further stimulated the economic growth of the area. A lagging economy eventually forced sawmills out of operation, and the railroad became a mere reminder of the "good ole times".
After 1890, the economy rebounded. Immigrants from Russia and Germany poured into the area. In ten years the population doubled, as did the price of land. Fortunately, much of the population increase was absorbed in the local fruit and nursery industries.
The magnificent sand dunes at Warren Dunes state park were formed thousands of years ago by receding glaciers that scraped across the continental bedrock, followed by wind and water erosion that reduced the rock to grains of sand. Today, some of the dunes tower 240 feet above Lake Michigan. Named after Edward K. Warren who was a prominent citizen of Three Oaks and served at times as treasurer, clerk, and supervisor. Mr. Warren operated a general store in Three Oaks and is reported to have noticed an employee of his fix a whale bone corset with a Turkey Feather Quill. This gave Edward Warren the idea to which he started the Warren Featherbone Company that still stands today in Three Oaks. He established the Edward K. Warren Foundation to oversee the management of two 200-acre tract of forest and beach. He originally purchased the site as a favor to a friend who had encountered significant financial difficulties. These tracts were developed as Warren Dunes State Park in 1930, today one of the most popular state parks in Michigan.
In 1968, construction started on the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant. Today, thanks to the Cook Plant, Lake Township is one of the most prosperous communities in Berrien County. The population (2000 census) is 3,148 people, 1,171 households, and 892 families residing in the township. The total size of the Township is currently 18.6 square miles.