Berrien County, Michigan
In The News

Updated November 18, 2013

Submitted & Transcribed By Deanna West

The Night The Rio Burned

New Buffalo, January 9, 1959 - For years, the Rio restaurant and lodge stood as a landmark along the shores of Lake Michigan in New Buffalo. Folks would take a drive out from Chicago to wine and dine at this popular resort. In about 1958 the Rio was purchased and renamed the Surf and Sand Supper Club. The new owners were in the process of remodeling and then on January 9, 1959, regardless of several fire companies coming to the aid it was razed to the ground. Fire Departments as far away as Bridgman, Michigan and Michigan City, Indiana came to help but to no avail. The building was never rebuilt and a parking lot for beach bathers sits approximately where the old restaurant and lodge once stood.


Bridgman – from the Three Oaks Independent March 21, 1878
has quite a number of short men and some pretty tall ones, but our new station agent, Waldo G. Stebbins, over tops all of them by several inches. His height is 6 feet and 7 inches. If any of your readers know of a taller man, please let us hear from him.

The Congregational CChurch
– from the Three Oaks Independent March 21, 1878 The Church was crowded at the temperance meeting on Sunday evening. Address were made by Hon. Wm. Chamberlain, Rev. S. T. Cooper and W. Warren. The annual meeting for election of officers will take place on next Monday evening.

Fire at Shimer Convalescent Home February 19, 1954 – killed in the fire were Mary Collins, 87 of Watervliet; Samuel Lutz 91, Covert; Miss Louise Bishop, 82, formerly of Benton Harbor, Lucy Sparling, 91, Rt 1, Coloma; Fred Sayles 87, Glenn; Mrs. Adeline Blakesler, 80, Benton Harbor area, E. Harley Babcock, 76, of Kalamazoo.
Also in critical condition was Mrs. Jennie Schuster, 81 of Benton who was badly burned. Chris M. Binder, 79 of Benton Harbor escaped and dragged his wife Katherine, 82, to safety. But suffered a heart attack shortly after the terrifying occurrence. His wife Katherine was reported to be in good condition.
Mrs/ Clark Shimer, owner and operator of the home was hospitalized for shock. Clark Shimer, who had just had surgery was in the hospital at the time of the fire.
An electric space heater near one of the beds was thought to be the cause.
Sinking of the Chicora
January 21, 1895 – the steamer Chicora sank. She was of the firm in old St. Joseph of Graham and Morton line. The ship was loaded with an extra heavy cargo of 100 pound sacks of flour. She floundered and sank in a winter gale off the Lake Michigan coast somewhere between Saugatuck and South Haven. Occasionally pieces thought to be from the wreckage would drift to shore but not one body was ever recovered. A telegram was sent from John Graham, the ships owner, to halt the ship from leaving Milwaukee to St.. Joseph but it arrived too late. The telegram noted that the barometer reading of 28 was noted on the St. Joseph side of the lake. The captain of the vessel was Captain Edward George Stines, an experienced with over 30 years as a veteran of the Great Lakes. His confidence great, he even signed on his son Benjamin, to make the trip with them.
On that fateful day 23 crew members and 1 passenger lost their lives.
The Chicora was caught up in one of the fiercest gales to hit the Lake Michigan shores. When sighted by an on shore bystander, the ships smoke stack was listing at a 45 degree angle.
Another report differs from the first reports stating that some believe the ship to be about 10 miles off of the North Pier in St. Joseph.
Crew Members from St. Joseph, other than the captain and his son, both from St. Joseph were:
Nathan Lynch and Joseph Pearl(only passenger)
Benton Harbor men lost with ship were: Cornelius Simons, Joseph Marks, W. W. Morgan, Jesse Davis, Thomas Cass, Jack Ryan, William Dunn, Joseph Felix and John Mattison,
The exact location of the Chicora remains a mystery to this day - 2008.

            Swedish Coffee Pot & Swedish Bakery - Harbert, Michigan - Both were located on what was then US 12 (now known as Red Arrow Highway). These were two separate entities
            created around the 1930's. Locals loved it and Chicago residents would take a weekend drive to dine at the Swedish Coffee Pot and then stop to pick up their favorite bake goods.  
            In the mid 1940's Carl and Cora Marie (Magnuson) Anderson owned and operated the restaurant for several seasons.  Carl Sandburg, famous American poet, loved to stop in at the bakery
            when he would stay at his Harbor home. In 1961 with the completion of the portion of I-94 between New Buffalo and Stevensville and then to Chicago, through Indiana, brought a
            significant change to the area. Many of the business along the "Red Arrow Highway" floundered and went out of business. Some managed to survive, such as the Swedish Bakery.
            It expanded and added an addition and now runs a seasonal cafe with the bakery and many of the old time favorites still offered.  

Stardust - Halloween - Youngsters Forgo Pranks for Movies - Niles Daily Star = Tuesday November 2, 1948
  FREE MOVIES attract children like iron filings being drawn to a powerful magnet.. One local resident took account of this fact and provided refreshing entertainment for many Niles youngsters and averted considerable Halloween nuisance.... On "Beggars Night,: last Saturday, from 75 to 100 Niles children put aside their "Tricks or treat" pranks and assembled on the front lawn of the Lyle Johnson home as 330 North Fourth street... The big attraction at the Johnson home was a two-hour show of sound-movie comedy films.
  ...Good Samaritans Mr. and Mrs. Johnson aren't exactly amateurs at entertaining children and the fact was well provided by the orderly and delighted conduct of the youngsters.
  ...The Johnson's showed films outdoors several times during the week preceding Halloween, and the word was soon around that a special two-hour show would be presented Saturday night, weather permitting..... Sandra Johnson, 10, also participated actively in advertising the special outdoor attraction...
  "We like to entertain the children," - Mrs. Johnson said "and the youngsters seemed to enjoy the movies so much, that we plan to make it an annual event if possible.:... Mrs. Johnson also stated that if it is possible to do so when Mr. Johnson is at home that they may show more of the outdoor pictures this year whenever the weather permits. --- This is one of the finest examples of constructive community spirit that we have discovered in some time.

Tower Hill Camp - Sawyer, Michigan. I can still hear the bell ringing off in the distance, calling people to worship or gathering time. The Warren family donated the 55 acres for this beautiful camp and building area nestled in among the pine. It is hosted by the Illinois Conference of the United  Church of Christ and offers outdoor ministry events. This camp came into existence in 1923 and still offers its services today.

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This page was last modified - by Deanna West
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