Between 1866 and 1902, more than 50 wooden ships were built at shipyards along the banks of the Black River. The construction of these ships was financed by the ship owners, local merchants, groups of shareholders, and small shipping companies. Shipyards employed carpenters, joiners, caulkers, mast makers, riggers and other skilled workers. Sponsored by South Haven Municipal Marina
Shipbuilding declined during the early 1900s, as South Haven's economy increasingly catered to the resort industry. Although today's recreational boats are largely constructed out of fiberglass, the tradition of small wooden boatbuilding continues in South Haven.