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Dowagiac, Michigan
The historic Dowagiac Station on Depot Drive
The historic Dowagiac Station on Depot Drive
Location within Cass County
Location within Cass County
Dowagiac, Michigan is located in Michigan
Dowagiac, Michigan
Dowagiac, Michigan
Location in Michigan
Country United States
State Michigan
County Cass
Platted 1848
Incorporated 1863 (village)
1877 (city)
 • Total 4.53 sq mi (11.74 km2)
 • Land 4.45 sq mi (11.53 km2)
 • Water 0.08 sq mi (0.20 km2)
761 ft (232 m)
 • Total 5,879
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,273.07/sq mi (491.55/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
Area code(s) 269
FIPS code 26-22880
GNIS feature ID 0624843

Dowagiac ( də-WAH-jak) is a city in Cass County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 5,879 at the 2010 census. It is part of the South BendMishawaka, IN-MI, Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Dowagiac is situated at the corner of four townships: Wayne Township to the northeast, LaGrange Township to the southeast, Pokagon Township to the southwest, and Silver Creek Township to the northwest.

The city name comes from the Potawatomi word dewje'og meaning "fishing [near home] water". Dowagiac is the headquarters of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and is also contained within the reservation.


Dowagiac was first platted in 1848. It was incorporated as a village in 1863 and as a city in 1877. Dowagiac gained national attention in June 1964 after police began investigating multiple reports of what became known as the Dewey Lake Monster.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.54 square miles (11.76 km2), of which 4.46 square miles (11.55 km2) is land and 0.08 square miles (0.21 km2) is water.

Dowagiac Woods Nature Sanctuary, commonly referred to as Dowagiac Woods, a 235 acres (0.95 km2) woods located in Cass, is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting Michigan's exceptional natural habitats and extraordinary and endangered plants and animals.

The Dowagiac River flows from the stream which rises as the "Dowagiac Drain" in central Decatur Township in southern Van Buren County, Michigan. It is joined first by the "Red Run" and then by the "Lake of the Woods Drain" near the southern edge of Hamilton Township, it becomes the "Dowagiac River" before entering into Wayne Township in Cass County. North of the city of Dowagiac, the river passes through the "Dowagiac Swamp". Just west of Dowagiac, the river is joined by its principal tributary, the "Dowagiac Creek".

The city of "Dowagiac" is also mentioned in the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock film, "North by Northwest" at 1:04:15 into the film as a destination read by the overhead announcer in the train station.

The city of "Dowagiac" is phonetically spelled "DOW WAH JAKK" scrolling on the stock ticker in the 2013 Martin Scorcese film, "The Wolf of Wall Street" at 00:01:03 as a list of stocks.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 1,181
1870 1,932 63.6%
1880 2,100 8.7%
1890 2,806 33.6%
1900 4,151 47.9%
1910 5,088 22.6%
1920 5,440 6.9%
1930 5,550 2.0%
1940 5,007 −9.8%
1950 6,542 30.7%
1960 7,208 10.2%
1970 6,583 −8.7%
1980 6,307 −4.2%
1990 6,409 1.6%
2000 6,147 −4.1%
2010 5,879 −4.4%
2019 (est.) 5,669 −3.6%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 5,879 people, 2,337 households, and 1,463 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,318.2 inhabitants per square mile (509.0/km2). There were 2,674 housing units at an average density of 599.6 per square mile (231.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 73.5% White, 14.3% African American, 3.0% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 2.4% from other races, and 6.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.4% of the population.

There were 2,337 households, of which 36.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.6% were married couples living together, 22.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.4% were non-families. 30.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.14.

The median age in the city was 32 years. 29.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.5% were from 25 to 44; 22.3% were from 45 to 64; and 12.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.6% male and 52.4% female.



Dowagiac Municipal Airport has a 4,700-foot (1,400 m) long paved runway for private pilots with a turf runway as well.


The city is at the junction of M-51 and M-62. M-51 connects with Niles 17 miles (27 km) to the southwest and with I-94 21 miles (34 km) to the northeast. M-62 connects with Cassopolis eight miles (13 km) to the southeast and with M-140 nine miles (14 km) to the west.


One of the oldest dial-a-ride services in Michigan, Dowagiac DART began service in June 1975 with a three bus fleet. The service is provided to the community of Dowagiac with service extended out to Southwest Michigan College. The service is provided by the city administration and is operated from a multi-modal terminal located on an Amtrak line. In its former life, the building was originally a Michigan Central, and later a Penn Central, train station. The building has been preserved and is maintained by the City of Dowagiac.


Dowagiac is served by Amtrak trains with daily service to Chicago and Detroit. The historic depot is located at 200 Depot Drive in the downtown area. Baggage cannot be checked at this location; however, up to two suitcases in addition to any personal items such as briefcases, purses, laptop bags, and infant equipment are allowed aboard as carry-ons. Also at this historical train depot is where the first orphans from the orphan train were dropped off and adopted.


Dowagiac is served by the Dowagiac Union School District, consisting of the following schools:

  • Justus Gage Elementary
  • Kincheloe Elementary
  • Patrick Hamilton Elementary
  • Sister Lakes Elementary
  • Dowagiac Middle School
  • Dowagiac Union High School

Dowagiac is also home to Southwestern Michigan College. SMC is a two-year school that offers on-campus housing.

Notable people

  • Dave Behrman – Michigan State and Buffalo Bills football player, AFL and NFL first-round draft pick in 1963
  • Philo D. Beckwith – Founder of Round Oak Stove Company and Mayor of Dowagiac
  • Dickinson Bishop – Businessman and Titanic sinking survivor
  • David Cargo – Governor of New Mexico 1967–71
  • Wally Fromhart—Notre Dame football player
  • Billi Gordon – Model, actor, author, screenwriter, Doctor of Functional Human Brain Research
  • James Heddon – Inventor of the artificial fishing lure
  • Sean Hill – NFL player
  • Judith Ivey – Tony Award-winning actress
  • Franz Jackson - Saxophonist and clarinet player
  • Webb Miller (journalist) – Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and author
  • Adolph Otto Niedner – Custom gunsmith and wildcat cartridge inventor and Mayor of Dowagiac
  • Carrie Newcomer – Singer-songwriter
  • Kenneth Porter – World War I pilot, credited with 5 enemy aircraft destroyed
  • Donavon F. Smith – World War II pilot and USAF lieutenant general, credited with 5.5 enemy aircraft destroyed
  • William Alden Smith – US Senator
  • Chris Taylor – wrestler, Olympic medalist
  • Emery Valentine – Alaskan statesman and businessman

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Dowagiac para niños

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