Dead River (Michigan)

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Dead River (Michigan)
Native nameGaa-waakwimiigong-neyaashi-ziibi
CountryUnited States
Physical characteristics
 ⁃ locationMarquette County, Michigan
 ⁃ coordinates46°39′47″N 87°59′36″W / 46.663°N 87.9932°W / 46.663; -87.9932[1]
 ⁃ location
Lake Superior, Michigan
 ⁃ coordinates
46°34′36″N 87°23′33″W / 46.5766°N 87.39263°W / 46.5766; -87.39263Coordinates: 46°34′36″N 87°23′33″W / 46.5766°N 87.39263°W / 46.5766; -87.39263
Length43.2 mi (69.5 km)
Basin size400 sq mi (1,000 km2)

The Dead River (French: Rivière des Morts) is a 43.2-mile-long (69.5 km)[2] river in Marquette County, Michigan.[3] Its watershed is approximately 400 square miles (1,000 km2) in size.[3] The river flows southeasterly from western Marquette County to its mouth on Lake Superior.[4]

As of 2003, five dams existed on the river:[4] Silver Lake Dam, Hoist Dam, McClure Dam, Forestville Dam, and Tourist Park Dam. Hoist and McClure are hydroelectric dams. On May 14, 2003, the fuse plug spillway in the Silver Lake Dam failed, unexpectedly releasing nine billion gallons of water to flow down the Dead River. The dam at the Tourist Park failed, but the other upstream dams held. Remarkably, no lives were lost and no major injuries occurred. Property damage was estimated at about $100 million. [5] The Silver Lake and Tourist Park dams were rebuilt and are now back in operation.

Historically, its name is derived from the Ojibwe Gaa-waakwimiigong-neyaashi-ziibi (recorded as "Kah way komi gong nay aw shay Sibi", meaning "Peninsula by the Roads to the Land of the Dead River") or Ne-waakwimiinaang (recorded as "Ne ko me non" meaning "by the Peninsula for Road to the Land of the Dead"), both referencing its mouth being near Presque Isle Point, a cape on Lake Superior. Additionally, earlier maps record this river either in French as "Rivière des Morts", "Rivière du Mort", or "Rivière au Paresseux", or in English as "Deadman's River". The current name for this river in Ojibwe is either Giiwe-gamigong-neyaashi-ziibi (Return-by-shore Peninsula River) or Niboowaagaming ("At the Death's Shores").

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Dead River". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map Archived 2012-04-05 at WebCite, accessed January 3, 2012
  3. ^ a b "Dead River (Michigan)" (PDF). Great Lakes Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Silver Lake Dam: May 14, 2003 Fuse Plug Activation" (PDF). Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  5. ^ "PLANNING FOR EMERGENCIES: LESSONS LEARNED FROM SILVER LAKE" (PDF). Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Retrieved 21 August 2011.