Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Dams of the Muskegon River

I was released from the rehab facility yesterday and I decided that I wanted to go out exploring today.  While I was in the rehab facility, I stumbled across a Michigan History magazine that mentioned some of the early hydroelectric dams in Michigan (if not the country).  After a little research online, I found out about some of these dams that are still operational today.  So I decided to go seek them out.
 The first dam that I ran across was the Croton Dam in Croton Township which is near Newaygo, Michigan.  Newaygo itself it about 30 miles north of Grand Rapids on M-37.  A few years ago, I passed through Newaygo when I did my M-37 tour.  Anyway, it was a nice day to go exploring.
 This dam was built in 1907 under the direction of William Fargo for the Grand Rapids-Muskegon Power Company.  Eventually this company would become Consumers Power and ultimately Consumers Energy.  The dam itself was built into an earth embankment.  They decided on the Muskegon River because for the most part it was not navigable.  The dam originally used two Westinghouse horizontal generators and could produce 8.8 megawatts of power to Grand Rapids, Michigan.
 In 1979, it was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.
 Despite the fact that this is a renewable energy source, there is some controversy over the use of hydroelectric power.  They are dangerous to fish because it can prevent them from going to their upriver spawning locations.  There is also the potential that they raise water temperatures.  Despite all this, the dam is still supplying power today and the permit is good until 2034.
 The Hardy Dam is located in Big Prairie Township and is about about 10 miles from the Croton Dam.  Unfortunately, many of the roads leading to a view of the dam itself were closed, so I had to settle for this picture of the top of the embankment.  It is another embankment style dam and at the time of its completion, it was the largest dam east of the Mississippi.  The reservoir has a surface area of 4,000 acres and the dam itself can generate 31.5 Megawatts.
Construction of the Hardy Dam began in 1929 and it was designed by William Fargo.  It was completed in 1931 and named after George E. Hardy who was one of the financiers of Consumers Power.
From the looks of it, there were some pretty nice trails leading to a spot where someone could get a decent picture of the full dam but that sounds like a summer project.  This dam was added to the National Historic Registry in 1997.
The Rogers Dam was constructed in 1906 with a 4.5 Megawatt capacity.  In 1921, the original power plant was destroyed in a fire and replaced with a 6.8 Megawatt generator.  It is the oldest dam operated by Consumers Energy.

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