This week longtime Congressman Dale Kildee passed away. Kildee, uncle of current Flint Representative Dan Kildee, represented Flint for over 30 years earning the nickname “the Cal Ripken of Congress.” He was involved in many efforts including some vital early childhood bills and (of course) auto industry support, but one interesting thing that I learned from writer David Dempsey is that Dale was the sponsor of the 1987 Michigan Wilderness Act which created 10 State Wilderness Areas protecting nearly 100,000 acres of old growth forest, dunes, lakes, and rivers including Sturgeon River Gorge.
Encyclopedia Britannica says that the 210-mile-long Saint Joseph River rises near Hillsdale in south-central Michigan, flowing generally west with a swing south into northern Indiana through Elkhart and South Bend before reentering Michigan to empty into Lake Michigan at Saint Joseph and Benton Harbor. Check out places to access the St. Joseph on Michigan Water Trails.
Bill took this photo of the St Joseph River near the Langley Covered Bridge with his drone a couple of weeks ago. See more of the river & the bridge in his Michigan: St. Joseph County gallery on Flickr!
The high river bluff is the reason for the area’s unusual name. At the turn of the last century, lumbermen needed inexpensive ways to transport timber from the forest to the sawmills and wide-flowing rivers like the Manistee were the answer. Steep banks were used to “rollaway” the logs in a thunderous avalanche to the water where they floated to the mills. Unfortunately, the practice quickly stripped the vegetation from the river banks and, by the time the lumbermen moved on, eroding sand was clogging and narrowing the rivers. In the last 20 years, efforts have been made to stabilize the Manistee River High Banks with fieldstone terraces and replantings. The observation platform was installed in 2001 so visitors could enjoy the stunning view without damaging the fragile system.
A short distance below Great Conglomerate Falls is an awkward duplicate: Potawatomi Falls. Like its twin, Potawatomi is a split drop over a dome of conglomerate rock that creates two tall, curving waterfalls. However, this one is not split evenly. Much of the water is pushed to the eastern bank by an uneven riverbed to create a wide and multi-tiered drop. A few small streams converge for the other side and make for a smaller, but more direct, plunge.
As a bonus, it’s walkable to another beautiful waterfall, Gorge Falls.
The river is best known for the Tahquamenon Falls, a succession of two waterfalls in Tahquamenon Falls State Park totalling approximately 73 feet (22 m) in height. Because the headwaters of the river are located in a boreal wetland that is rich in cedar, spruce and hemlock trees, the river’s waters carry a significant amount of tannin in solution (i.e., it is a blackwater river), and are often brown or golden-brown in color. The Tahquamenon Falls are thus acclaimed as being the largest naturally dyed or colored waterfall in the United States.
The meaning of “Tahquamenon” is not known. Some called it the “River of the Head Winds” because they bucked the wind on the lower river no matter what direction they were paddling. Others called it the “River of a Hundred Bends”. Twentieth century descendants of local Chippewa translated the name to mean “river up against a hill” or “lost river island” or “river with an island part way”. In 1930 Jesuit scholar, Father William Gagnieut, concluded that the meaning of the name had been lost.
The Port of Detroit is located along the west side of the Detroit River and is the largest seaport in the state of Michigan:
The port consists of multiple marine terminals handling general, liquid, and bulk cargo as well as passengers. The Port of Detroit’s single most valuable commodity is steel, and the largest commodity handled by tonnage is ore. Other important commodities handled at the port include stone, coal and cement.
…Each year, the Port Authority oversees millions of tons of cargo at 29 private and public sector terminal facilities in the Port of Detroit. International and domestic high-grade steel products, coal, iron ore, cement, aggregate and other road building commodities are shipped in and out of Detroit’s port. It is the third largest steel-handling port in the nation.