Elk River (Michigan)

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For other places with the same name, see Elk River (disambiguation).
Elk River
Elk River.jpg
Elk River
Main source Elk Lake
44°53′08″N 85°24′14″W / 44.88555°N 85.40388°W / 44.88555; -85.40388[1]
River mouth Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan
44°54′06″N 85°24′49″W / 44.90166°N 85.41368°W / 44.90166; -85.41368Coordinates: 44°54′06″N 85°24′49″W / 44.90166°N 85.41368°W / 44.90166; -85.41368
Physical characteristics
Length 1.5 mi (2.4 km)
Elk River bridge from US 31.

The Elk River is a very short but significant river in the Lake Michigan drainage basin of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is only 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in length[2] and flows from Elk Lake into Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan. It forms a waterway and harbor for the municipality of Elk Rapids.[3]

Elk Lake is 192 feet (59 m) deep and is a former arm of Lake Michigan. When the larger lake's level dropped, a belt of sediment separated Elk Lake from Grand Traverse Bay, and a short, whitewater river, Elk River, formed to provide drainage for the smaller lake.

The Indians named the short, rapid river the Meguzee, in honor of the Anishinaabe name for the bald eagle. In the early 19th century, Euro-American settlers arrived. In 1858, someone discovered a pair of elk antlers in the rapids; the rapids, river, and lake were renamed after the dead animal.[4]

The rapids are quiet now, as a hydroelectric dam has been built. Boats must portage the dam, using adjacent boat ramps. Below the dam, the river opens out into Grand Traverse Bay and forms the harbor of Elk Rapids.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Elk 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 November 21, 2011
  3. ^ Michigan Atlas and Gazetteer (10th ed.). Yarmouth, Maine: DeLorme. 2002. 
  4. ^ "The Village & Township of Elk Rapids", Elk Rapids, Mich., accessed August 9, 2007.[1]

External links[edit]