Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, January 24, 2010, pg. 7
I’ve written in the past about the “black ditch,” a stream feeding the Kalamazoo River which once ran through the southwest part of town. It was filled in the early 20th century and became a handy sewer/storm drain line which is still in existence today.
There was another stream which fed into the Kalamazoo River, however, which was not as prominent but did exist. This one drained into the Kalamazoo River near the Cass St. bridge. If you look on the north side of the bridge towards the old recycling center building, you’ll notice a large round opening in the river wall where the storm water drains. This is what is left of that stream. It too was transformed into a storm drain line.
Where did this stream come from? Going upstream with our description, it apparently ran north along Ionia St., then crossed Michigan Avenue. At some point one branch turned northeast and crossed Monroe St., north of Union Steel Products near Mulberry and Berrien Sts. The April 21, 1910 edition of the Albion Recorder mentioned under Council Minutes: “Communications, One from Health Officer Irving C. Foster, relative to the open ditch or waterway on Monroe St. which is being used as a private sewer and recommending that some action be taken at once regarding the matter.”
This “feeder stream” apparently meandered from the east through the areas around Burr Oak, Fitch, Lynn, and Sydenham Sts. I know of one situation along Lynn St. where a resident kept his milk cold in the 1930s by placing the milk bottle in the spring in his basement. If you drive north on Burr Oak St., from Michigan Avenue for example, you’ll travel downhill. At the bottom of the hill at some point south of the railroad tracks is where this stream was located.
Another branch which fed into this stream at some point was apparently located “at the bottom” of N. Superior St. near the intersection at North St. I remember a cement sidewalk “square” once located there that had four iron posts (then sawed off) at the “T” of the intersection. This apparently was the remains of the “sidewalk bridge” over the stream at that point. The stream apparently flowed southeast through the Colfax and Norwood St. areas to some point where it joined the aforementioned stream around Monroe St.
In looking through various historical maps, this stream only officially appears on one of them: The 1868 Bird’s Eye View of Albion by Albert Ruger. The Cass St. bridge hadn’t even been constructed at that time. From our Historical Notebook this week we show the stream from that map, flowing along N. Ionia St. and crossing Michigan Avenue where a bridge has been drawn. How many of our readers occasionally have water in their basements in these areas? It may be because your house is near one of these former feeder streams.
The 1868 Bird’s Eye View of Albion by Albert Ruger showing the Stream
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic