The Kalamazoo River is located in the southwest portion of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The river runs about 148 miles west from the headwaters of the southern branch in Hillsdale County into Lake Michigan near Saugatuck.
Potawatomi Indians and French missionaries and fur traders inhabited the area in the 1600 and 1700s. By the early 1800s, there were several small communities along the river, including Kalamazoo.
With the introduction of the railroad in the 1840s, the importance of the river for transportation diminished. By the mid-1800s, several communities had grown up along the river as mill towns and commercial centers. Allegan Hydro, west of Kalamazoo, began operating in 1936.
How it Works
In the Allegan Hydro tailwaters, steelhead, brown trout, salmon, walleye, bass, and catfish congregate. Northern pike and pan fish inhabit the reservoir. There is also a portage and boat launch picnic facilities.
An active mink population and several active eagle nests exist along the Kalamazoo River.
Also known as Calkins Bridge, the Allegan hydro can produce up to 2,550 kilowatts of electricity. It was built by the city of Allegan in 1936 and financed under the Franklin D. Roosevelt-era National Recovery Act.
The hydro was acquired in 1968 by Consumers when the company purchased the City of Allegan Municipal Utility system. The federal operating license expires April 2010. The company has begun the process to obtain a new license.