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!