In northwest Michigan, halfway between Manistee and Cadillac, the Manistee River is home to two Consumers Energy hydroelectric dams, which together produce enough electricity to meet the annual power needs of about 13,000 residential customers.
Completed in 1925, Hodenpyl Dam can produce up to 17,000 kilowatts. Meanwhile, Tippy Dam built in 1918, is Consumer Energy's second largest dam and can generate up to 20,000 kilowatts.
Consumers Energy - one of Michigan's largest landowners - owns about 2,300 acres around Hodenpyl Hydro and 300 acres near Tippy Hydro. Most of the other land surrounding Hodenpyl and Tippy ponds is a part of the Huron-Manistee National Forest, administered by the U.S. Forest Service. These lands provide prime recreation opportunities.
Known locally as the "Big Manistee" so as not to be confused with its smaller southern neighbor, the Little Manistee River, the Manistee River stretches about 170 miles from its headwaters near the village of Alba to Manistee Lake and then Lake Michigan.
How it Works
Capable of producing 17,000 kilowatts, Hodenpyl Hydro was completed in 1925. Located near the village of Mesick in Wexford County, it is named after Anton G. Hodenpyl, a Wall Street financier who oversaw the holding company (Commonwealth and Southern) that Consumers was part of from the early 1900s.
The scenic turnout, one mile south of Mesick on M-37 near Hodenpyl Hydro, was named one of the top 10 places to view fall color by AAA Michigan in 1997. The turnout provides an expansive view of the Manistee River at Hodenpyl Hydro pond.
Completed in 1918, Tippy Dam (known as Junction Hydro when it was built) was named after Charles W. Tippy, a company director from 1922 to 1933. Tippy Hydro is Consumer Energy's second largest hydro dam producing up to 20,000 kilowatts and providing electricity to approximately 6,500 customers. It is located about 15 miles east of Manistee near Wellston and is accessible from M-55.
The successful removal of Stronach Dam, which is just upstream of the Tippy Hydro pond on the Pine River, was completed in 2004. The Stronach Plant was retired in 1953 and the six-year long dam removal project restores the free-flowing river conditions on the lower stretch of the Pine, a favorite among canoeing enthusiasts.
The Manistee River is one of Michigan's premier canoe floats and finest steelhead, salmon, and trout rivers. The clear, cool water and natural woodlands provide championship fishing and excellent wildlife viewing and recreational opportunities year round.
Tippy Dam's tailwaters are popular for salmon and steelhead fishing. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources operates access facilities here, including a barrier-free fishing pier and a nearby campground. A large wild turkey population inhabits the Tippy area, and eagles are also often seen there. Morel mushrooms are thick near Tippy Dam, attracting enthusiasts each spring.
Reservoirs at both sites offer pike, bass, walleye, trout, and panfish. Boat launches, boat rentals, campgrounds, picnic facilities, hiking trails, fishing piers, and swimming areas are located around the two reservoirs. Northern Exposure Campground on Hodenpyl Hydro pond, with 260 campsites, provides the ideal base camp from which to explore this area.
A suspension footbridge just downstream of Hodenpyl Dam links a segment of the North Country National Scenic Trail on the west side of the river with the Manistee River Trail bordering the river's east side, forming a spectacular 20-mile hiking loop. A barrier-free shoreline observation deck at Veteran's Memorial Park on M-115 near Hodenpyl Hydro provides excellent wildlife viewing.
The Manistee River hydroelectric projects are also included as "watchable wildlife" viewing areas in Michigan's Wildlife Viewing Guide. Consumers Energy works with the USDA Forest Service and other entities to build and maintain these areas and assist in providing viewing opportunities.