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After the overcast skies of Port Huron, the following day turned out nicely for shooting the rapids (photographically speaking) in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Actually, the original rapids disappeared after the installation of a low-head dam and fish ladder but the present-day view of the Grand River from the riverside walkway still makes for some interesting picture-taking opportunities.

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Apparently oblivious of the turmoil just below her webbed feet, this duck was sunning herself almost on the brink of the dam.

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There seems to have been a movement in the past few years towards doing away with many of the old dams, which are now considered obsolete, on Michigan rivers, and in 2013 a $27 million dollar project was proposed that would remove the Sixth Street dam and restore the naturally occurring rapids. It will be interesting to see how that develops.

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During the 1880’s, pine and oak logs were floated downriver to be milled, and once, during heavy flooding, millions of them flowed uncontrolled down the waterway, becoming lodged against any and all obstacles, causing a 47 mile-long logjam north of Grand Rapids. It was easy to imagine as we watched full-sized tree trunks, that had fallen into the river, being tossed and pummeled by the churning waters at the base of the dam.

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Because of the dam, migratory fish such as salmon are prevented from traveling up and down the river. In order to help them on their way a fish ladder, consisting of a series of concrete steps, was built on the west side of the Grand. Don’t ask me how the fish know it’s there but presumably it works.

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We didn’t see any fish while we were there although there was one hopeful fisherman trawling about with a small net by the river’s edge. For obvious reasons the river is unnavigable so, unlike the Chicago River, there were no boats to watch, just the swirling waters and a view of the buildings lining the east side of the river.

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