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, French missionaries, and fur traders inhabited the area in the 1600s and 1700s. By the early 1800s, several small communities had been established along the river, including Kalamazoo.
In 1899, William A. Foote, Consumer Energy’s founding father, built Trowbridge Dam at a site upstream of Allegan. It was Michigan’s first major hydroelectric dam and its power was transmitted a then unheard of 25 miles to serve the city of Kalamazoo.
How it Works
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 was financed under the Franklin D. Roosevelt era National Recovery Act. The Calkins Bridge Dam was acquired by Consumers Energy in 1969 and produces more than 13 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to meet the power needs of 1,550 residential customers.
In the Allegan Hydro tailwaters, steelhead, brown trout, salmon, walleye, bass, and catfish congregate. Northern pike and pan fish inhabit the reservoir. In the spring and fall, when the fish are spawning, the Calkins Bridge Dam is a favorite spot for local fishermen.
An active mink population and several active eagle nests exist along the Kalamazoo River.
There is also a portage, boat launch, and picnic facilities located at this site.