Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

KALAMAZOO RIVER MILLPOND DREDGING

Morning Star, November 14, 1993, pg. 4

It is hard to imagine that 15 years have now passed since the Kalamazoo River millpond by Riverwside Cemetery and Barnes Park was dredged. The half-million dollar project was viewed as an investment in Albion's future, and funds were secured from a variety of sources.

The project was designed to remove tons of silt that had accumulated in the millpond during its 140 year existence, which had been accelerated by the letting out of the Homer Dam in the early 1960s. The millpond had been filled with silt and lily pads, making navigation next to impossible, and recreational uses very limited. Contractor for the job was the Mead Brothers of Springport, whose dredger spent 1978 and 1979 day and night, operating the dredger which deposited the silt and other materials into receiving ponds. One was located on the south bank of the river across from Barnes Park, and the other behind the Cemetery in the back of Haven Hills. Barnes Park was subsequently developed following the dredging project, named after local environmentalist and scout leader Truman Barnes. Truman started up the Albion Recycling Center and the initial funds raised by the group went towards the dredging project.

Fifteen years later, it is apparent that the dredging probably should have included the entire millpond, as the first portion on the west half was not included, and today is extremely shallow and almost unnavigable. Some of the silt on this portion has moved down into the dredged portion, filling it in. Apparently there were some oil pipes from nearby wells which were already buried across the river and were "grandfathered" according to current DNR and pollution rules, which prevented any dredging near them.

The site of the first receiving pond along Condit Road has been developed into an elegant subdivision. The other receiving pond behind the cemetery was left alone, and is now overgrown with brush and small trees. The millpond itself has been resourcefully used, as a place for fishing, water ski competition, and canoeing. A proposed swimming area along Barnes Park was never developed because of pollution and liability problems, but the park is used as a place to sit and enjoy the scenery.

From our Historical Notebook this week, we present an October, 1978 photograph of the Mead Brothers in action, dredging the millpond on the west side of M-99 next to Riverside Cemetery. Notice the "dinosaur egg" shaped flotation devices which held the vacuum pipes which led to the receiving pond. The pond was dredged to a depth of eight feet in the middle.


1978 Dredging of the Kalamazoo by the Mead Brothers

Next: THOMAS T. LLOYD AND THE ALBION CIVIC FOUNDATION


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