The Shiawassee River

Shiawassee River

Shiawassee River, photo by naokomc.

Poked around the map of Michigan this morning, looking for a place I hadn’t been. That turned out to be the Shiawassee River. (Shiawassee River slideshow)

The very good (if staggeringly bright yellow) page on the Shiawassee River basin from Shiawassee History says:

The Shiawassee River Basin plays a major role in the mid-Michigan area. Its drainage area is approximately 1,200 square miles and portions of the river touch at least 7 counties.

The river is about 110 miles long and generally flows in a northerly direction, which is one of only two or three in the world. The Flint River, Cass River and Titabawassee River join the Shiawassee just southwest of the City of Saginaw and together form the Saginaw River which drains into the Saginaw Bay.

Shiawassee History also explains that Shiawassee may come from the Chippewa term for straight running river; Shiawassee (straight, or straight ahead) wassee. Then again, you can find other sources saying that the name means “river that twists about”.

The Nature Conservancy has a nice page on the Shiawassee River Watershed and the threats it faces from development pressures.

I’ll link to Wikipedia’s brief entry on the Shiawassee River because it had a link to Headwater Trails proposed Shiawassee River Water Heritage Trail (and in hopes that someone can go there and make the entry better).

Update (6/12/07): I just found the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy who relate that the Saginaw Bay Watershed is the largest contiguous freshwater coastal wetlands system in the United States, featuring more than 175 inland lakes and about 7,000 miles of rivers and streams that are home to large populations of waterfowl, birds, snakes, turtles, amphibians, and more than 138 endangered or threatened species. They’re having a photo contest too – see the comments for details!

10 thoughts on “The Shiawassee River

  1. It does look a wee bit lick sections of the Red Cedar where it runs through the MSU campus, doesn’t it? Or possibly the Grand River running through Potter Park.


  2. It does look like the Red Cedar.
    Back to the Shiawassee & Saginaw Basin, the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is sponsoring the 1st Annual Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy Photo Contest. They ask you to capture an image that reflects living in the Saginaw Bay Watershed.
    <a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Rules, categories and entry form</a>.


  3. I have been intrigued by the similarity of the names Shiawasee and Tittibawasee. The endings are the same. The Tittibawasee has been said to mean “Shining River” probabably from the ending. “Wasseia” in Chippewa/Ottawa means light. It is my belief that both the Shiawasee and Tittabawsee Rivers are the “Shining Rivers” or “Rivers of [fire or] Light”, the clear rivers. The major city of Shiawasee County is Owosso, which also means, it seems, to light or to kindle. As to the meaning proposed for the Shiawasee River–the meaning “Twisted River”, I can say this, “Chipppewa/Ottawa “titibaode” means it is rolled or twisted. So, an answer insues. There is a “Twisted Shining River” the Tittabawasee while the Shiawasee River is the “Straight Shining River”. The root of “Wasseai” seems to be “Saki”. The original people here were the Nation of Fire. Fire in Chippewa/Ottawa is “Saki”, which I think is the real meaning of Sauk and Saginaw. “People of the River’s Mouth” has been proposed for Saginaw and Sauk from “sagi”, but the root of outlet, or to go out, is “consumed as by fire” or saki, I think. Saginaw was shown on 1600’s maps as E. Kandiodontius, which I think is related to Latin “candeo” meaning to shine white. Lake St. Claire was called Kandichio. Latin “claire” also means to shine white.


  4. Sunday, June 6, 2010 Annual Shiawassee River Paddle Event (canoe rental available)

    Paddle 7 Miles from WaterWorks Park in Holly,MI to Strom Park in Fenton,MI
    Holly to Fenton Canoe/Kayak Race & Pleasure Paddle
    – racers launch first, leasure paddlers get all afternoon to finish

    Mail Registration

    -WaterWorks Park –
    602 South Broad St, Holly, MI 48442-1674

    –Strom Park–
    299 South East Street, Fenton,MI
    near the East Street Bridge.

    10:00 am On-site registration begins
    11:30 am Introductory Ceremony
    11:45 am Experienced Canoeists
    12:15 pm Novice/Youth Canoeists
    12:45 pm Kayak/ Single person canoeists
    1:00-2:00 Pleasure paddle begins
    1 – 6 pm Continuous race results and trophies
    6:00 pm Final river sweep completed

    Canoe rentals, call 248-685-2379.
    Canoes available for rental thru Heavners Livery
    Shuttle transport all day long until 6pm

    Prizes for First, Second & Third Places in all three races.

    Ribbons for all entrants.

    Enter the following category:
    Experienced 2-person canoe team
    Novice/Youth 2-person canoeists
    Kayaks/ Single person canoeists
    Pleasure Run (per craft)

    Children under 12 paddle free.

    Questions ?

    Call Sue Julian, 248-634-3513
    or email sjulian AT provide dot net

    Call Doug Lanyk 248-634-4551
    or email dslanyk AT comcast dot net

    ** Maps **


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