Site No.6: WWII Prisoner of War Camp
(Camp Lakewood Civilian Conservation Corp Camp)

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As you drive along this stretch of road you won’t be able to see any remains (However, look for the interpretive sign!), but one of the most interesting chapters in Allegan’s history occurred here.  In 1944 five-thousand POW’s (German and Italian soldiers taken prisoner during World War II) were sent to Michigan, 250 to Allegan County, to assist farmers during the 1944 harvest as most of the men were away fighting the war in Europe and in the Pacific.  They were held at Camp Lakewood, which was a Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camp built in 1936.

Try to Escape?  There was one escape attempt when some German soldiers thought they would swim across Lake Michigan to Chicago where they thought German families might hide them. But they mistook Lake Allegan for Lake Michigan!  After their long swim they were still in Michigan and were quickly captured.

Officer's Barracks
The former U.S. Officers' barracks for the POW camp.

After the war was over and the prisoners returned home, many came back to Allegan County, having made friends with local families during their captivity.  With Germany in ruins, they were welcomed back to begin new lives here in the County.

Officer's Barracks
Panorama of CCC Camp Lakewood ca. 1936
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