Name of book: “Destination: The Haven”

Author: Wallace K. Ewing, Ph.D.

Literary genre: Local history

Available at: The Bookman, Tri-Cities Historical Museum, Michigan Rag, C2C Art Gallery, Depot Antiques in Spring Lake. In addition, Ewing will discuss his book during a presentation at Spring Lake District Library on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. 

Synopsis of the book: In the early years of Grand Haven’s settlement, the Grand River provided the most convenient and fastest way to travel between Grand Rapids and Grand Haven, destinations often shortened to “the Rapids” and “the Haven.” Small boats called packets plied the river, while sailing vessels and steamboats carried passengers and supplies into and out of Grand Haven’s harbor. The coming of the railroad in 1858 offered an alternate means of transportation, and the advent of motor vehicles in the early 1900s provided yet another mode. The widespread use of the family sedan made it possible for families living hours away to visit the lakes, dunes, rivers and woods of Northwest Ottawa County for a day or two, for a weekend, or for an extended vacation. “Destination: The Haven” relates how these varying modes of transportation impacted Grand Haven’s evolution from fur trapping and lumbering to a resort destination. The many phases of that change, starting with Port Sheldon’s failure in the mid-1830s and continuing to the Musical Fountain and beyond, often were dramatic and always significant. As Dennis Swartout wrote in the book’s introduction, “The reader is taken on a wonderful journey that describes the people, places and events that made our community what it is today.”

Why did you write the book? To learn and share the story of the people, places and events that have made this part of West Michigan a desirable vacation and holiday destination. It was fascinating to learn that as long ago as 1836, West Michigan was seen as an excellent resort area, and then to follow that dream and see it come true over the ensuing 180-plus years.

About the author: Wallace K. Ewing earned his bachelor and master degrees from Michigan State University and his doctoral degree from the University of Illinois. He was appointed to a Fulbright Lectureship at the University of Tehran in Iran, taught Peace Corps volunteers in West Africa, and trained master degree candidates in Puerto Rico to teach English in the public schools. After serving as provost of the Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire, he returned to his hometown of Grand Haven. Ewing spent 2006-07 at a university in China teaching English writing and American literature. Since his return to Grand Haven, he has continued to research and write about local history and genealogy. He is the author of more than 20 books about local history.

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