Grand River (Michigan)
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The Grand River (
Ottawa Ottawa (, ; Canadian French: ) is the capital city of Canada. It is located at the confluence of the Ottawa River and the Rideau River in the southern portion of the province of Ontario. Ottawa borders Gatineau, Quebec, and forms the core ...
: ''Owashtanong'', "Far-Flowing Water") is a river in the southwestern portion of the southern peninsula of
Michigan Michigan () is a state in the Great Lakes region of the upper Midwestern United States. With a population of nearly 10.12 million and an area of nearly , Michigan is the 10th-largest state by population, the 11th-largest by area, and the ...
, United States, that flows into
Lake Michigan Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume () and the third-largest by surface area (), after Lake Superior and Lake Huron. To the east, its basin is conjoined with that ...
's southeastern shore. It is the longest
river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of ...
in Michigan, running from its headwaters in
Hillsdale County Hillsdale County is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 45,746. The county seat is Hillsdale. Hillsdale County is the only county in Michigan to border both Indiana and Ohio. Due to ...
on the southern border north to Lansing and west to its mouth on the Lake at
Grand Haven Grand Haven is a city within the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Ottawa County. Grand Haven is located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Grand River, for which it is named. As of the 2010 census, Grand H ...
. The river was famous for its mile-long, 300-yard-wide, and 10-to-15-foot-tall rapids, for which the city of Grand Rapids was named. These rapids were submerged following the construction of numerous dams, starting in 1835, and flooding of areas behind the dams. The river has not had any rapids for nearly a century.


Course

The headwaters of the Grand River begin from natural springs in Somerset Township in
Hillsdale County Hillsdale County is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 45,746. The county seat is Hillsdale. Hillsdale County is the only county in Michigan to border both Indiana and Ohio. Due to ...
near the boundary with Liberty Township in Jackson County. From there, the river flows through Jackson, Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Ionia, Kent, and Ottawa counties before emptying into Lake Michigan. The river runs through the cities of Jackson, Eaton Rapids, Lansing, Grand Ledge, Portland,
Ionia Ionia () was an ancient region on the western coast of Anatolia, to the south of present-day Izmir. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements. Never a unified state, it was named after the Ionian ...
, Lowell, Grand Rapids, and
Grand Haven Grand Haven is a city within the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Ottawa County. Grand Haven is located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Grand River, for which it is named. As of the 2010 census, Grand H ...
.


Hydrology

The Grand River is one of three major tributaries of Lake Michigan, including the Fox River (Green Bay tributary) on the western shore, and
Kalamazoo River The Kalamazoo River is a river in the U.S. state of Michigan. The river is long from the junction of its North and South branches to its mouth at Lake Michigan, with a total length extending to when one includes the South Branch.U.S. Geologic ...
on the southeastern shore. It falls in elevation from 1260 ft. in the highlands of its headwaters to 577 ft. at its mouth on Lake Michigan. Its waters drain northward through the lake, then south and east through the Great Lakes waterways into the
St. Lawrence River The St. Lawrence River (french: Fleuve Saint-Laurent, ) is a large river in the middle latitudes of North America. Its headwaters begin flowing from Lake Ontario in a (roughly) northeasterly direction, into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, connectin ...
, which flows northeasterly into the
Gulf of St. Lawrence , image = Baie de la Tour.jpg , alt = , caption = Gulf of St. Lawrence from Anticosti National Park, Quebec , image_bathymetry = Golfe Saint-Laurent Depths fr.svg , alt_bathymetry = Bathymetry ...
on the
Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers approximately 20% of Earth's surface and about 29% of its water surface area. It is known to separate the "Old World" of Africa, Europe ...
. The Grand River discharges an estimated average . Its watershed is the second-largest in the state, draining an area of , including 18 counties and 158 townships. Much of the basin is flat, and it contains many swamps and lakes. The basin is composed of four sub-basins: Upper Grand, Lower Grand, Thornapple, and Maple, where the four major tributaries flow: the Flat, Rogue, Thornapple, and Maple rivers. Tributaries of the river include (beginning near
river source The headwaters of a river or stream is the farthest place in that river or stream from its estuary or downstream confluence with another river, as measured along the course of the river. It is also known as a river's source. Definition ...
and travelling downstream): Portage River, Red Cedar River, Looking Glass River, Maple River, Prairie Creek, Bellamy Creek, Flat River,
Thornapple River The Thornapple River (Ottawa: ''Sowanquesake'', "Forked River") (GNIS ID #) is an U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline dataThe National Map, accessed May 19, 2011 tributary of Michigan's longest river, the ...
, Rogue River, Coldbrook Creek, Plaster Creek, Bass River, Buck Creek and Crockery Creek.


Dams

There are fourteen dams on the main branch of the Grand River. Some 218 dams were built on its tributaries; these have divided the ecosystem into a set of dysfunctional local streams. 228 of these dams are registered with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The main branch dams are: lower *Grand River (6th Street) *Grand River middle *Lyons (removed in 2016) *Grand Ledge *Portland *North Lansing *Webber (hydroelectric) upper *State Street *Moore's Park (hydroelectric) *Sanitation *Smithville (hydroelectric) headwaters *Liberty Mills *Crystal Lake *Mirror Lake *Lake LeAnn North *Lake LeAnn South


Ecology

It is estimated that 22% of the pesticide usage in the Lake Michigan watershed occurs in the Grand River drainage, which accounts for only 13% of the lake's total watershed. The river is a
trout Trout are species of freshwater fish belonging to the genera '' Oncorhynchus'', ''Salmo'' and '' Salvelinus'', all of the subfamily Salmoninae of the family Salmonidae. The word ''trout'' is also used as part of the name of some non-salmo ...
and
salmon Salmon () is the common name for several commercially important species of euryhaline ray-finned fish from the family Salmonidae, which are native to tributaries of the North Atlantic (genus ''Salmo'') and North Pacific (genus '' Oncorhync ...
stream for much of its length.


History

As the glacial ice receded from what is the central
Lower Peninsula The Lower Peninsula of Michigan – also known as Lower Michigan – is the larger, southern and less elevated of the two major landmasses that make up the U.S. state of Michigan; the other being the Upper Peninsula, which is separated by the ...
of Michigan around 11,000 years ago, the Maple River and lower Grand River served as a drainage channel for the meltwater. The channel ran east to west, emptying into proglacial Lake Chicago, the ancestor of Lake Michigan. About 2,000 years ago, the Hopewell Indians settled along the Grand River near present-day Grandville. Their presence is still seen in the preserved burial mounds. By the late 17th century, the Grand River band of Odawa had established villages on the banks of the Grand River at the sites of what would later become several towns and cities, including Grand Rapids, Forest Hills, Lowell,
Lyons Lyon,, ; Occitan: ''Lion'', hist. ''Lionés'' also spelled in English as Lyons, is the third-largest city and second-largest metropolitan area of France. It is located at the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône, to the northwest of t ...
, and Portland. For these peoples, as well as for later explorers, fur traders and settlers, the river served as an important navigational trade route and cultural hub. The river formed part of a major demarcation of land ceded by Native Americans enabling U.S. settlers to legally obtain title to land in the area. In the 1821 Treaty of Chicago, the Odawa,
Ojibwe The Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Chippewa, or Saulteaux are an Anishinaabe people in what is currently southern Canada, the northern Midwestern United States, and Northern Plains. According to the U.S. census, in the United States Ojibwe people are one of ...
, and
Potawatomi The Potawatomi , also spelled Pottawatomi and Pottawatomie (among many variations), are a Native American people of the western Great Lakes region, upper Mississippi River and Great Plains. They traditionally speak the Potawatomi language, a ...
ceded to the United States all lands in
Michigan Territory The Territory of Michigan was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from June 30, 1805, until January 26, 1837, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Michigan. Detroit ...
south of the Grand River, with the exception of several small reservations. The city of Grand Rapids was built starting in 1826 on the site of a mile long
rapids Rapids are sections of a river where the river bed has a relatively steep gradient, causing an increase in water velocity and turbulence. Rapids are hydrological features between a ''run'' (a smoothly flowing part of a stream) and a '' casca ...
40 miles upstream from the river's mouth, although these disappeared after the installation of a run-of-river dam in 1866 and five low-rise dams during a river beautification project in 1927. The Grand was important to the rapid development of West-Central Michigan during the 1850s to 1880s, as logs from Michigan's rich pine and oak forests floated down the Grand River for milling. After the Civil War, many soldiers found jobs as lumberjacks cutting logs and guiding them down the river with pike poles, peaveys, and cant hooks. The men wore bright red flannel, felt clothes, and spiked boots to hold them onto the floating logs; these boots chewed up the wooden sidewalks and flooring of the local bars, leading one hotel owner to supply carpet slippers to all river drivers who entered his hotel. The "jacks" earned $1 to $3 per day and all the "vittles" they could eat, which was usually a considerable amount. In 1883, heavy rains during June and July brought water levels on the river to record highs. The flooding was bad enough, but the rising water overwhelmed lumbering booms—river enclosures used to sort and organize logs for transport to saw mills—in Lowell, Grand Rapids as well as Grand Haven and Robinson townships. As water rose, the logs escaped the enclosures, much like cattle fleeing stockyards. Soon, Kent and Ottawa counties had a 'stampede', as millions of logs flowed uncontrolled down the river and became trapped in bends or against bridges. The result was a logjam of incredible proportions that clogged the river for 47 miles (10 million Feet of logs trapped in Lowell, 95 million Feet of logs trapped in the "Big Bend" northeast of Grand Rapids, 80 million Feet of logs trapped in Ottawa County). Grand River Avenue (or Grand River Road) was built early in the settlement of Michigan and ran from the head of navigation on the Grand to downtown Detroit. It formed an important part of an early route between
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive Map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...
and
Detroit Detroit ( , ; , ) is the largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is also the largest U.S. city on the United States–Canada border, and the seat of government of Wayne County. The City of Detroit had a population of 639,111 at ...
, along with the Grand itself, from Grand Rapids to
Grand Haven Grand Haven is a city within the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Ottawa County. Grand Haven is located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Grand River, for which it is named. As of the 2010 census, Grand H ...
on
Lake Michigan Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume () and the third-largest by surface area (), after Lake Superior and Lake Huron. To the east, its basin is conjoined with that ...
. A fish ladder installed in 1974 replaced the West Side Water Power Canal headgates removed in 1960. In recent years, Grand Rapids Whitewater, a private nonprofit organization, is working toward restoring the rapids to the river in Grand Rapids. The project, which began in 2019, will remove five dams between Sixth street and Pearl street to restore an 18-foot drop in the Grand River's elevation.


Points of interest

Two of Grand Valley State University's campuses are located on the banks of the Grand River. The main campus in Allendale and the Pew Grand Rapids campus in Grand Rapids both border the river in separate locations miles from each other. The Grand is home to GVSU's
rowing Rowing is the act of propelling a human-powered watercraft using the sweeping motions of oars to displace water and generate reactional propulsion. Rowing is functionally similar to paddling, but rowing requires oars to be mechanically at ...
team, and the crew boathouse sits parallel to the river on the Allendale campus's north side. Coast Guard Station Grand Haven is situated near the mouth of the river in Grand Haven. The station gives Grand Haven its nickname ''Coast Guard City USA''.


Parks, docks and recreational facilities

* Millennium Park (Grand Rapids), the largest park in western Michigan, larger than Central Park, NY


Crossings

At least 80 bridges cross the river's 250-mile span, with most bridge structures clustered in metropolitan/municipal areas along the river. County road and state highway crossings can be found in less densely populated areas along the waterway: * * File:Convergence of the Grand and Red Cedar Rivers (Lansing, Michigan).jpg, Convergence of the Grand and Red Cedar Rivers in downtown Lansing File:North_Lansing_dam.jpg, The Grand River's North Lansing dam, near downtown Lansing File:Grand River, Grand Rapids.jpg, The Grand River through downtown Grand Rapids File:Grand River Watershed.gif, The Grand River Watershed


See also

* List of Michigan rivers


References


External links

* {{Authority control Rivers of Michigan Tributaries of Lake Michigan Geography of Grand Rapids, Michigan Geography of Lansing, Michigan Rivers of Hillsdale County, Michigan Rivers of Jackson County, Michigan Rivers of Ingham County, Michigan Rivers of Eaton County, Michigan Rivers of Clinton County, Michigan Rivers of Ionia County, Michigan Rivers of Kent County, Michigan Rivers of Ottawa County, Michigan Rivers with fish ladders