USGenWeb Project




Click on image to enlarge

note: This is not a government web site, for information about use of Milham and other Kalamazoo city parks please visit :

Click on image to enlarge


Lovers Lane just north of Portage Creek, 1911
milham2parkloverslane1911.jpg (59671 bytes)
For the better part of one hundred years, people in Kalamazoo have enjoyed the park located at Lovers Lane and Kilgore Road on the south side of the City of Kalamazoo


Portage Creek Dam
According to Willis Dunbar ( Kalamazoo and How It Grew ), "During the term of Mayor Charles H. Farell, in 1910, a park commission was created and the property which was developed into Milham Park was purchased."  The city had paid $5000 for the sixty acres of future parkland, but the actual cost was $10,000 - the $5000 difference was paid by the Park Commission Chairman, Frank Milham (Living in Kalamazoo , Balls and Lassfolk ) -   Frank Milham was the founder of the Bryant Paper Company and, later, twice Mayor of Kalamazoo.

The chief feature of Milham Park is Portage Creek, which runs through the length of the park. It was dammed to create water views and habitat for waterfowl.

milham2parkdam.jpg (42591 bytes) milham2dam1930s.jpg (16956 bytes)
milham2parkdam1963.jpg (70370 bytes)

Click on image to enlarge

The wider creek that resulted from the dam gave opportunity for the picturesque stone bridges, many built in the depression times of the 1930's

Click on image to enlarge

The Creek in the 1940's

The creek featured a
 water wheel

milham2parkwaterview1940s.jpg (50151 bytes)

Used to create a bathing 
beach and wading pool

milham2parkbathingbeach.jpg (48248 bytes)

Click on image to enlarge

milham2parkswimmingpool1948.jpg (50598 bytes) milwoodparkbathhouse.gif (85498 bytes)

Click on image to enlarge

The Creek 2001
The bridges enhance the many beautiful water views:
 milhambridge02.jpg (225478 bytes)  milhamcreek05.jpg (233470 bytes)  milhampkportagecreek.jpg (339056 bytes) milhamcreek06.jpg (259210 bytes)

The water vistas are complemented by winding pathways:
milham2parkpath.jpg (61625 bytes)
milhamparkpath1942.jpg (84779 bytes)
milhamcreek04.jpg (241848 bytes)

Click on image to enlarge

milham2parkbearcage1945.jpg (46591 bytes)

"A zoo was opened in 1927 to which William P. Engleman donated two buffalo ( Dunbar,  Kalamazoo and How It Grew ). The zoo was part of an improvement program that saw forty acres added to the park.

During the depression of the 1930's the zoo was extensively improved through work relief programs that resulted in the many stone structures through out the park.

In 1939 several African monkeys were donated to the park zoo.  One immediately escaped to the delight of writers at the Kalamazoo Gazette who wrote stories with titles such as "Escaped Monkey Haughty After Capture."

Monkeys escaped again in 1970 resulting in similar titles, "Monkeys Flee Zoo."

In addition to the monkeys, the zoo also featured a bear pit.  In 1974, the city decided to close the zoo and the last bear died in 1977.

Click on image to enlarge

milham2parklogcabin1944.jpg (55586 bytes)
Over the years other park features have come and gone such as the log cabin


Click on image to enlarge

But, the basic uses of the park have remained unchanged, picnics, family and school reunions, and simple outdoor activities of all sorts.
milham2parkpicnic1900s.jpg (13055 bytes)
 milham2parkbaseball1942.jpg (32392 bytes)


In 1958, Marie Lassfolk and Ethel Balls in their book, Living in Kalamazoo, gave a glowing, and justifiable, description of Milham Park: "Milham Park offers a variety of attractions.  Outdoor grills and picnic tables make the park ideal for outdoor picnics.  A zoo and wading pool for children add to the park's attractiveness as a recreation center".  Although the park has changed since 1958, it remains an important recreation center for the City and County of Kalamazoo.

Click on image to enlarge

 milhamparkcreekrocks.gif (324735 bytes)  milhamparkcreekstandinggeese.gif (823142 bytes)  milhamparkgeese.gif (278037 bytes)  milhamparkcreekbank.gif (306411 bytes)
 millhamgeese07.jpg (236748 bytes)  milhampklowershelter.jpg (246806 bytes)  milhamparkstonewall.gif (1114879 bytes)  milparkpavilion.gif (1114013 bytes)

There are a number of Milham Park views at Kalamazoo Public Library website
the link above opens in pdf format
Download Adobe Reader

Lillian Anderson Arboretum at Kalamazoo College     1. Cold Brook Park - Climax, East MN Avenue at South 42nd Street.
W.K. Kellogg Biological Station     2. Markin Glen Park - Kalamazoo Township, North Westnedge Avenue, just north of G Avenue.
Kalamazoo Nature Center     3. Prairie View Park - Vicksburg, east of U.S. 131 on U Avenue, between Portage Road and Oakland Drive.
Kalamazoo County Parks Photographs     4. River Oaks Park - between Comstock and Galesburg, Morrow Lake, just off M-96
The History of Markin Glen County Park     5. Scotts Mill Park - Scotts, south of East Q Avenue on 35th Street .
Portage District Library     6. Recreation Park / Fair Grounds  Lake Street off of Business Route I-94.
The Fairground address is 2900 Lake Street  see th
e County Fair page

To Portage Bicentennial Park page

Return to Kalamazoo Co. Michigan USGenWeb page

All rights reserved.
This site may be freely linked to but not duplicated
in any fashion without my consent.
The information on these pages is meant for personal genealogical
research only and is not for commercial use of any type.