The Headwaters Dam on the Grand River

Joe Writes . . . 

With the news of the Edenville Dam failing on the Tittabawassee River near Midland and the resultant extensive flooding, I was motivated to take a 45-minute drive to the headwaters of the Grand River yesterday evening.

The Grand River flows out of Grand Lake, a clean and beautiful lake with no public access in southern Jackson County and, after a mile or more, a dam forms a millpond behind the Liberty General Store in Liberty Township. The millpond’s water flows over the dam and thus begins what many people view as the start of the Grand River. While not entirely accurate, this point does mark the start of the somewhat accessible portion of the Grand.

The headwaters dam is on private property and, leaving aside for the question of whether the dam should be removed (there was a time in the 1980’s when the millpond dam was removed),  it would be comforting to know how well the dam is maintained and how often it is inspected. These questions  spurred my journey to the headwaters yesterday. As seen in the photos below, there is a lot more water going over the dam now than there was the last time I visited the headwaters. This is to be expected in light of recent heavy rains and is not intended to imply the dam is failing, but what if the millpond dam were to fail? Is there a plan in place to deal with the consequences?

Video is likely a better tool with which to appreciate the difference. View the water flowing over the millpond dam in December of 2017 here, then watch video from May 21, 2020 here.


We are glad you found our blog. If you like it, please tell a friend and share it on your social media. We would be delighted if you would leave a comment here, and will respond promptly. Tom has been scouting the final – but substantial – leg of our journey down the Grand and is anxious to share his plans with me. I will visit with him and learn what he has in mind and as soon as it is acceptable and safe to do so. I often end my posts by writing “Please take the river’s side; Industry and Big Ag already have plenty of friends in high places.” During The Great Isolation I will add, “. . . and wear a damn mask!” Be well.

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