Watervliet Township, Michigan

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Watervliet Charter Township is a charter township of Berrien County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 3,392 at the 2000 census.

The township originally included the area of Coloma Charter Township, which was separated in 1917. The City of Watervliet is the only incorporated municipality in the township. The Paw Paw River and Paw Paw Lake are prominent features of the township.

The Watervliet area is host to many "summer homes", which has contributed considerably to the local economy as well as increased development.

Interstate 94 crosses east-west through the south of the township with two interchanges and M-140 runs north-south through the area which has also contributed greatly to the local economy.




Watervliet Township began as a much larger block of land that included the areas now known as Watervliet Township and Coloma Township. It was a perfect location for industry, with its rolling land of timber and the flowing waters of the Paw Paw River emptying into Lake Michigan at the harbor of St. Joseph. Prior to the formation of Coloma Township in 1917, prosperous sawmills encouraged the formation of the early village of Shingle Diggings, which was followed by the birth of the cities of Coloma and Watervliet.

As timber was cleared, and the early village of Waterford (later called Watervliet) was established, farming of the newly cleared land became a lucrative business in Watervliet Township. Hard working, resourceful men turned harvested land into thriving farms. Harvey Sherwood came to the Township in 1870 and became known as the “Apple King of Michigan”, with one of the largest orchards in the State. His farm was called Lake View, because of its panoramic view of Sherwood Bay on Paw Paw Lake.

After his marriage in 1854, Sebastian Smith settled in Watervliet Township. As an entrepreneur, he encountered and overcame many difficulties, due to his insistent efforts. By 1878 he had established himself as one of the first major international businessmen in the area when he succeeded in shipping carloads of apples to London, England.

Over the years, Watervliet Township maintained its rural atmosphere, yet wisely encouraged businesses to locate within its borders.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 14.4 square miles (37.4 km²), of which, 13.6 square miles (35.3 km²) of it is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km²) of it (5.61%) is water.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 3,392 people, 1,348 households, and 939 families residing in the township. The population density was 248.7 per square mile (96.0/km²). There were 1,724 housing units at an average density of 126.4/sq mi (48.8/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 93.66% White, 1.71% African American, 0.88% Native American, 0.32% Asian, 2.27% from other races, and 1.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.22% of the population.

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