Clinton–Kalamazoo Canal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Clinton-Kalamazoo Canal
Clinton–Kalamazoo Canal is located in Michigan
Clinton–Kalamazoo Canal
Location Clinton Township to Rochester
Coordinates 42°39′17″N 83°3′10″W / 42.65472°N 83.05278°W / 42.65472; -83.05278Coordinates: 42°39′17″N 83°3′10″W / 42.65472°N 83.05278°W / 42.65472; -83.05278
Area 51 acres (21 ha)
Built 1838
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 72000638[1]
Added to NRHP March 24, 1972

The Clinton–Kalamazoo Canal is an abandoned canal in Michigan that was only partially completed. The canal was to connect Lake St. Clair with Lake Michigan. The inspiration came from the success of the Erie Canal in New York, which was completed in 1825. Michigan had just achieved statehood in 1837 and its first governor, Stevens Thomson Mason, initiated an ambitious program of internal improvements which included three railroads and two canals.


The Clinton–Kalamazoo Canal was to begin in Mount Clemens on the banks of the Clinton River and continue through Utica, Rochester, Pontiac, Howell, Hastings, and finally to the mouth of the Kalamazoo River. In all, the canal was to span 216 miles.

Construction began in 1838 with much fanfare. Financial troubles related to the Panic of 1837 caused funding for the canal to disappear and all construction stopped in 1843 after only 13 miles had been completed. Many workers who were unpaid destroyed parts of the canal and stole supplies.[2] Engineering miscalculations also contributed to the canal's failure as the canal was dug too shallow and too narrow for heavy freight barges.

After construction ended, the canal quickly fell into disrepair. Portions were used as a millrace to power watermills that operated until the 1940s. The canal was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The route of the canal has been marked by signs and historic markers.


Map of the canal. showing the Clinton River, major roads, and parks

Remnants of the canal are still visible in Rochester Hills in Oakland County and in Shelby Township Utica and Clinton Township in Macomb County. Much of the canal is clearly visible in parks and along Canal Road in Clinton Township. The remains of the aqueduct built over the Clinton River can be seen in Yates Park, and two wood dams can be seen in the river in Canal Park and Bloomer Park. No locks are visible along the canal but the locations of a few are known.[3]

External links[edit]