Arcadia Creek History

In 1853 Arcadia Creek was called Arcadia Brook on a map made by surveyor Henry Hart (Kalamazoo Public Library- H 912.77417 K15). From 1860 until 1884, the Kalamazoo Steam Brewery was in operation along Arcadia Creek near a pond located where Waldo Stadium is now. The creek was split with one arm going past the Kalamazoo Steam Brewery. The other arm appeared to pass through a factory before the arms met again and crossed the railroad tracks. There were advertisements for the brewery in the 1869-1870 and 1871-1872 Kalamazoo directories, which can be found in the local history section of the Kalamazoo Public Library.

Maps from 1873 and 1890 show that there used to be three ponds or lakes along Arcadia Creek at and east of the WMU Power Plant. However, there was no mapping available from 1873 or 1890 that showed Arcadia Creek west of where the Power Plant currently exists. The first pond, starting from the west, was about where the Power Plant is located today. The map from 1890 did not show the creek existing further east than this pond.

The second pond used to be where the WMU Physical Plant and Waldo Stadium are currently located. However, a map drawn from surveyor John Mullett's notes from 1827 shows no ponds at all. The surveyor's map does show a small stream that flowed from about where the Kalamazoo College Football field is now, down across where the track is and to Arcadia Creek. This small stream is also on the maps from 1873 and 1890. This stream no longer exists.

The third pond on the 1873 map was located between the railroad tracks (which ran from the NE to SW) and Main Street (which runs east and west). Elm Street, which was the closest street to this pond, dead-ended into Main and ran north. On the 1890 map, the pond is no longer in that location, but there was another a little bit west of where the pond used to be. This new pond, or lake, was on the corner of Academy and the railroad tracks, on the property of Kalamazoo College. It was called Mirror Lake. This pond was on the opposite side of the tracks where the other one was just 17 years earlier. However, none of these ponds exist today.

Before the 1930s, there was a horse farm on the property where most of the eastern part of main campus is today. Arcadia Brook (which once flowed to Arcadia Creek) used to cut through that property. The Oaklands was the home of the family that owned the farm. The horses bred at the farm were said to be some of the finest racehorses in the country at the time.

In the 1930s and 40s there was an 18-hole golf course called Arcadia Brook Public Fee Golf Course located on the eastern part of the current main campus along the creek. The clubhouse address was 1659 W. Michigan Avenue. In the 1950 Kalamazoo city directory the address of the clubhouse was Western Michigan College's Temporary Student Housing (1934 and 1950 Kalamazoo City Directories in the Kalamazoo Public Library). In 1950, there was a golf course on the western part of the current main campus. It was located just west of McCracken Hall at 2205 West Michigan Avenue and it was called Gateway Municipal Golf Course, which was adjacent to the creek.

In downtown Kalamazoo, between 1873 and 1890, Arcadia Creek was canalized and made to run underground starting before reaching a housing area on the west side of N. West St. and Cooley St. and then again from N. Rose St. to Harrison St. just before it empties into the Kalamazoo River.