Most People In Michigan Don’t Know About Camp Lakewood, An Old German POW Camp
Did you know that over the course of WWII over 400,000 members of the German military were kept in the United States as prisoners of war? One of these POW camps was right here in the Great Lake State and you can still see some of the remains today. If you love finding little-known abandoned spots in Michigan, you’ll enjoy exploring this overgrown former POW camp in Allegan, Michigan.
On the west side of Lake Allegan on 42nd Street in Valley Township, you’ll find the former location of Camp Lakewood.
In 1944, 5,000 German and Italian POW’s were sent to Michigan and 250 were housed at Camp Lakewood to assist farmers during the harvest as most of the men were away fighting the war in Europe and in the Pacific.
Camp Lakewood was a Civilian Conservation Corps camp that was built in 1936 and is a little-known spot you can still explore today.
Sadly, the camp was not well taken care of, it fell into disrepair and was torn down. But you can still find remains such as concrete foundations, stairs, and a few hidden gems.
There is a handy historical marker to give you information about the former camp with photos and newspaper clippings.
There was an escape attempt made when a few German soldiers thought they could swim across Lake Michigan to Chicago where German families might house them. But they mistook Lake Allegan for Lake Michigan and after a swim, they were captured and returned to the camp.
If you choose to uncover this piece of Michigan history, make sure you wear clothes that can get dirty because you might be tempted to dig around!
Once the war was over the prisoners were sent back to their home country, but you may be surprised to learn that many returned to Allegan County. While in captivity the prisoners became friends with local families and, with Germany left in ruin after the war, decided to return to Michigan and begin a new life in the United States.
For even more local history, visit the Allegan County Heritage Trail website for locations and a map. Would you explore this interesting roadside spot? Let us know in the comments! If you’re a WWII history buff, you have to Stay Overnight On An Old WWII Submarine Right Here In Michigan.
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Address: 42nd Street, 42nd St, Michigan, USA