Thunder Bay River

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The Thunder Bay River is a 75.4-mile-long (121.3 km) [1] river in the U.S. state of Michigan. It drains much of Alpena County and Montmorency County, and a small portion of Oscoda County, into Thunder Bay on the eastern side of northern Michigan. The mouth of the river is in the heart of downtown Alpena and is guarded by the Alpena Light Station.

Contents

Geography

Unlike many of Michigan's rivers, the Thunder Bay River drops considerably from its headwaters in southwestern Montmorency County to Lake Huron. A hill near the headwaters northeast of Lewiston is 1,270 feet (390 m) above sea level and 689 feet (210 m) above lake level. A former whitewater stretch northwest of Alpena, the "Long Rapids", carried the river down from the northern Michigan plateau to Thunder Bay. The rapids have since been drowned under Lake Winyah (also known as Seven Mile Pond), a hydroelectric reservoir created by the Norway Dam (also known as Seven Mile Dam). [NB 1]

Much of the middle and upper reaches of the Thunder Bay River flow through the Mackinaw State Forest, which is a large swathe of northeastern Michigan that, after logging was completed in the 1910s, reverted to the state for unpaid property taxes. The state forest contains large numbers of aspen and birch trees, pulpwood trees typical of second-growth Michigan forests.

The largest reservoir in the Thunder Bay River basin, the 8,500-acre (3,400 ha) Fletcher Pond (also called Fletcher Floodwaters) in western Alpena County, began to fill in 1932. It is noted for having the second largest population of ospreys in the Midwest. As of 2006, pond riparian property owners were actively trying to counter an exotic infestation of Eurasian watermilfoil. [2]

Boardwalk

As of 2007, planning was underway for a $3.4 million river-edge boardwalk, the 2,800-foot-long (850 m) Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail on the north shore of the Thunder Bay River in central Alpena. The boardwalk route passes through a former industrial site, the Fletcher Paper Mill. The boardwalk will be signposted with plaques and kiosks telling the history of the river. [3]

Bridges

Eager to help the motor vehicle industry, the Michigan Department of Transportation was one of the first state agencies in the U.S. to build concrete bridges. A good example, 150 feet (46 m) long, can be found spanning the Thunder Bay River at Hillman. Raised in 1922, it is of the variety called a concrete camelback bridge, and is said to be the fifth longest such bridge in the state. [4] The Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail will include a new pedestrian bridge across the Thunder Bay in central Alpena. [3]

Fish

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Thunder Bay River, and especially Fletcher Pond, have populations of bass, pike, and panfish. [5] The river is also now the home of an exotic population of Eurasian ruffe. [6]

Notes

  1. see map in external links hereafter

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Alpena Light

The Alpena Light, also known as the Thunder Bay River Lighthouse or Alpena Breakwater Light, is a lighthouse on Lake Huron near Alpena, Michigan. Standing on the north breakwater of Alpena Harbor, the light marks the entrance to the Thunder Bay River from Thunder Bay. The current lighthouse, built in 1914, replaced earlier wooden structures which had been in use since 1877 and 1888. The current light is a weather-protected structure on a steel frame. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, and the state inventory list the same year.

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Fletcher Pond

Fletcher Pond is a man-made body of water located in Northeastern Michigan. The pond covers over 9,000 acres (36 km2) of land that was previously cedar forest. A dam was built in 1931 that blocked the flow of the Thunder Bay River to provide reserve water for the Alpena Power Company hydroelectric power plant located in the city of Alpena, Michigan.

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Rockport State Recreation Area is a 4,237-acre (17.15 km2) state park located along the shore of Lake Huron in Alpena and Presque Isle counties in the state of Michigan. It is operated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and was established in 2012. The park contains limestone formations and an old limestone quarry. There is a deep water boat launch that can accommodate all sizes of watercraft. The park is located along the Lake Huron Flyway and is used to gauge the health of Lake Huron and its shoreline environment. Several ship wrecks can be found off-shore in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary including the Portland and the Portsmouth. The park was previously known as "The Rockport property" and is not far north of Alpena, Michigan.

Long Lake (Montmorency County, Michigan)

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References

  1. U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed November 21, 2011
  2. "Fletcher Pond EWM Control", accessed 31 March 2007
  3. 1 2 "Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail Under Construction". Michigan History. 91 (2): 60–61. Mar–Apr 2007.
  4. "M-32 Spur/Thunder Bay River", accessed 31 March 2007
  5. "Thunder Bay River State Forest Campground", accessed 31 March 2007
  6. "Eurasian ruffe", accessed 31 March 2007

Coordinates: 45°03′40″N83°25′33″W / 45.06111°N 83.42583°W / 45.06111; -83.42583