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Updated December 15, 2009, 10:01 pm

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Grand River

The Grand River, the longest river in our state, winds some 260 miles from the Jackson area to Grand Haven.

Native Indians knew the head of the Grand River as Gabaguoache (GOB-uh-guh-watch-EEE) – the big mouth – which empties into Lake Michigan. French explorers called the Grand River La Grande Riviere.

More than 200 years ago, the Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi tribes lived along the Grand River. Fishing, hunting, and navigation were the way of life for these caretakers during the 1700s.

In 1907, Webber Hydro began generating electricity on the Grand River and today is Consumer Energy’s oldest original operating hydroelectric plant.

How it Works

How a Hydroelectric Dam Generates Electricity

Webber Hydro

With a capacity of 3,225 kilowatts, the Webber hydro was completed and began generating electricity in 1907, with its output primarily serving the city of Grand Rapids. Webber Dam is located on the Grand River near Ionia, about 35 miles northwest of downtown Lansing. It is 32 feet high and 1,200 feet long, and is the tallest dam on the Grand River. Behind it lies a 7 mile long, 660 acre reservoir. A new 40 year federal operating license issued in 2001 expires in 2041.


The tailwaters below Webber Hydro attract salmon, steelhead, bass, and walleye. The Webber pond also provides pike and pan fish. There is also a portage and boat launch near the dam.