Three Rivers, Michigan

I wasn’t born in Three Rivers but I lived there from the age of 5 years until going off to college. The town was prosperous in those days. During the 1940s and 1950s, there was a booming automobile industry in Detroit, and waves of tourists poured in from there and from the Chicago area. People traveled to the lakes in southern Michigan in the Summers, and they had the money to spend, providing a pretty good income for the town and its residents.

When the US automobile industry began its decline from excessive labor union demands and foreign competition, the town gradually shrunk to little more than half its earlier population. Businesses suffered or simply vanished. The stores and businesses that managed to survive moved out of the central downtown district to the US131 bypass, where they were joined by fast-food joints and a big-box store.

Today Three Rivers is a sleepy little town with lots of vacant storefronts and plenty of “deferred maintenance” in the neighborhoods – a mere shadow of its former self. But much of its rich past can be recalled in the pages of these little books.

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  • Click the graphic to open each book.
  • Turn pages with your mouse.
  • Download pdf of either book below

Three Rivers
The Early Years

Written in 1986 by Lucile Haring and Phyllis Agosti, with contributions from Loretta Magner and Roeberta Shingledecker, the original printing was saddle-stitched on rather porous print stock, so the images were not clear. The printing had been done by the local small-town newspaper and the printing plates had been destroyed by fire.

The images were barely 150 dpi, so I scanned them at 1200 dpi and used Adobe Acrobat to down-sample to 300 dpi, making them seem even more clear than the original.

The binding was upgraded to the familiar EVA method because the more modern Polyurethane Reactive (PUR) adhesive type of paper-back binding had not become readily available at the time.

The map with index, done by William & Robert McDonough was not part of the original book. I added those pages from materials supplied by Sheila Haring in 2001 (notes on page ix). Otherwise, the text is exactly what Mmes. Haring, and Agosti wrote. They both rest peacefully in Three Rivers.

See original photos also from Sheila Haring HERE and download the 109-page pdf for printing HERE. [i]Revised: June 2021;   Recently I discovered another box of 40 copies that I had set aside 20 years earlier. The Three Rivers Library didn’t want them, but the St. Joseph County Historical Society did, so I shipped them after pulling out a copy for my brother, Todd, and four copies for my high school buddy, Larry Hackenberg.

Headlight Flashes, Along
The Michigan Central Line

I resurrected this from the Google Library Project, along with an actual “hard” copy of the book that I found in a used book store somewhere in Northern Michigan in the mid-1990s. I have reassembled it pretty much the way I think it was originally published in 1896. You can page through it by clicking on the image or download a pdf for printing HERE

The Three Rivers
Robe Tannery

The Tannery, was another Three Rivers legend. My grandmother, known to all her friends as “Kitty”, worked there as a seamstress when I was a kid.

The Tannery was the place where hunters and trappers from all over the State brought their hides to be tanned and turned into coats, hats, and gloves.

If there had been a lady in Three Rivers, owning a mink coat in the 1950s, that would have been something really special. It would be really special today as well, but for a totally different reason.

I am not sure where I got this little book but most likely it was passed down through our family.

Sadly, on my last visit to Three Rivers, I discovered that the Tannery building, which had probably been there for well over 100 years, had been demolished.

By: Jim
Written: mid-1990s
Published: May 29, 2020
Revised June 13, 2021
footnotes
footnotes
i Revised: June 2021;   Recently I discovered another box of 40 copies that I had set aside 20 years earlier. The Three Rivers Library didn’t want them, but the St. Joseph County Historical Society did, so I shipped them after pulling out a copy for my brother, Todd, and four copies for my high school buddy, Larry Hackenberg.