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5/24/2021 New Printable PDF Maps of East and West of Union Lake DRAFTS!

5/24/2021 Printable Map of Heritage Water Trail Sign Locations

Save the Date! 8/28/2021 for Celebrate the St. Joe in Union City! (Chamber of Commerce Event Link) 

 On Saturday, August 28th  2021 The Union City Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with The Society for Historic Preservation, Union Township Library, UC Parks and Rec, and the Union Lake Community Association are planning a day to Celebrate the St. Joe in Union City. The day will culminate with the screening of “Then, Now and Always…The St. Joseph River Story,” in the Rick Mears Amphitheater, a new documentary being released by WNIT Public Television out of South Bend. The film screening will be preceded by a concert by the Jim Stout Band, both events are FREE!  A day long schedule of activities will be released soon that will include paddling events, Society for Historic Preservation self-guided cemetery walking tour, SHP JP Palmer painting exhibit along with the sale of JP Palmer cards and ornaments, SHP Hammond House tours, the sale of two new local volumes of river and lake history, day long chicken barbecue by the Bucket and American Legion, lunch by the Methodist Church , “Ghost of the St. Joe” dinner theatre in Riverview Park, Riley Dam Tours, Union Lake Association activity, and more! Be sure to save the date and come celebrate the St. Joe!

Access local paddlers who can give you up to date river conditions (flow, hazards, blockages) via the Facebook Page: Friends of the Union City Heritage Water Trail. Local paddlers are usually quick to respond to questions posted there.

NEWS! South Bend Tribune, Outdoor Adventures Columnist, Joe Dits Reviews the Union City Heritage Water Trail. (originally published in 7/16 Joe’s column on the UCHWT won him a writing award later in 2016)

The Union City Historic Water Trail was launched on July 3rd, 2016 as part of the Village’s Sesquicentennial Celebration (July 1-3 Free Fest!) with nearly 200 floaters and paddlers joining in the initial celebratory float. Twenty eight sites, signs with information and vintage images,  commemorate the Village’s rich river  history on a 5 mile stretch of


UCHWT committee members, Dave Wright (left) and Mark Havens (right) installing sign posts on a fall day in 2015.

waterway  that starts at the J.P. Palmer Launch on Coldwater River, joining the St. Joe heading west through village  across Union Lake culminating 5 miles downstream at the Riley dam. It was created by a committee of local citizens and supported by the Village, local property owners, organizations and businesses through signage sponsorship and permission to place the historic markers. Facebook users, please join us at  Friends of the Union City Heritage Water Trail and share your experiences and photos of our trail.

Elkhorn Lodge
Skinny Bullock’s lodge,  c. 1960. A beloved sight along the Heritage Water Trail.

The project was initiated by retired teacher, kayaker and long time lake resident Val Rossman who noticed the Michigan Heritage Water Trail lower on the St. Joseph River and approached the Sesquicentennial Planning Committee in 2014 with the idea. In early 2015 a committee was formed consisting of interested paddlers and residents including:

  • Val Rossman, Chair, Union City
  • Sandra Silsby, Union City
  • Erik, Abby and Evvie Borne, Jolliet, Il and summer lake residents
  • Mark Havens, Litchfield
  • Ashley Herman, Union City
  • Amber Armstrong, Union City
  • Ivanne Spooner, Union City
  • Robin Secord, Union City
  • T.J Secord, Union City
  • Karen Newhouse, Union City
  • David Wright, Union City
  • Helene Wright, Union City
  • Paula DeJongh, Union City
  • Marta Onofrio, Union City

Thanks to:

  • Val Rossman for spearheading the committee and contributing much time, effort and passion into collecting data, creating signs and developing a legacy for the community.
  •  Marty and Ron Chard, Union City originals and  local historians,  whose resources and collection of historic photos and postcards contributed immensely to this project.
  • Property owners and the village who gave permission for the placement of the marker.
  • Local individuals, organizations, and business who funded the signage.
  • The Village of Union City, President William Avery, the Village Council and former Village Manager Jim Campfield  who supported the new launch on the Coldwater River in 2013 and the first portage around the Riley Dam in 2015 to enhance the paddling opportunities on the upper St. Joe.
  • Village Manager, Chris Mathis who has continued to work on the dam portage and support the HWT efforts.
  •  Dave Lemberg, WMU Professor who initiated the Michigan Heritage Water Trails Project lower on the St. Joe and other waterways that spurred the idea for this project.
  • The 2016 Sesquicentennial Committee and the Union City Society for Historic Preservation for their encouragement and support.
  • Mark Havens who came through with his creation when we were desperately seeking an industrial strength post driver.
  • Pottery Rocks! local pottery studio for in kind donation and creation of our ribbon cutting souvenirs.
  • Nick Roden and Stockhouse Prints of Hillsdale for their consultation and sign printing.

Individuals, Organizations and Business Who Sponsored Signs:

  • Union City Parks and Recreation
  • Chip and Anita Riddle
  • The William Avery Family
  • AcMoody Farms
  • Wallen Farms
  • The Ben Chard Family
  • The Eric Elgan Family
  • Merchants Hardware
  • Larry and Susan Shroyer
  • The Bucket
  • All Things Serenity LLC
  • William Coats, Realtor
  • Lane Veterinary Services, Alex Lane DVM
  • Jacks Family Grocery, Cindy Fox
  • The Borne Family, Erik, Olivia, Evvie, Abby, Quinn & Clara
  • Marty and Em Chard
  • Green Thumb Garden Club
  • The Union City Wesleyan Church
  • Jo Ann and Dale Manchester
  • Marta and Patrick Onofrio
  • Bob and Sara Brewer
  • Hull Farms/Dovey’s Roost
  • Doug and Theresa Davis
  • The Swartzle Family
  • Val Rossman
  • Union Lake Community Association
  • Chris and Bobbie Mathis
Committee chair Val Rossman and Mark Havens scout signage locations on a fall day in 2015.

7 thoughts on “About

  1. Super job one and all, this trail will be used over and over in the years to come. Just another one of the many projects that people dedicated to keeping the history of Union City alive for future generations to enjoy. Plus draw to bring people to Union City


    1. Hi Tomas,
      Sorry somehow your comment got missed last summer. If you are on Facebook we have a page, “Friends of the Union City Heritage Water Trail.” That is where some events get shared and folks going to paddle the river often reach out for companions as well.


  2. Thank you one and all what a wonderful asset for our community we live on the river and it is so exciting to watch those who are enjoying famil times on the river. Thanks again for giving so much back to the community


  3. Does anyone have pictures or is there a website to go to see of when they lowered the lake in the Fall of 2018?


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