Flat River (Michigan)

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Flat River
WhitesBridge FlatRiver Scene DSCN9933.JPG
Flat River upstream from Whites Bridge, Fall 2006
Flat River Map US MI.svg
CountryUnited States
CountiesMontcalm, Kent, Ionia
CitiesBelvidere Township, Lowell, Greenville, Belding
Physical characteristics
 • locationFirst Lake, Montcalm County
 • coordinates43°26′23″N 85°6′7″W / 43.43972°N 85.10194°W / 43.43972; -85.10194
 • elevation915 ft (279 m)
 • location
Grand River
 • coordinates
42°55′40″N 85°20′19″W / 42.92778°N 85.33861°W / 42.92778; -85.33861Coordinates: 42°55′40″N 85°20′19″W / 42.92778°N 85.33861°W / 42.92778; -85.33861
 • elevation
617 ft (188 m)
Length70 mi (110 km)
Basin size560 sq mi (1,500 km2)
 • locationmouth
 • average530.62 cu ft/s (15.025 m3/s) (estimate)[1]

The Flat River (Ottawa: Quabahquasha, "Winding Stream"[2][3]) is a tributary of the Grand River in the western part of the U.S. state of Michigan. It rises as the outflow of First Lake, the last in a chain of geographically close, connected lakes known as Six Lakes in Belvidere Township, west of Edmore in Montcalm County. It flows mostly south and slightly west through Montcalm County, Ionia County, and Kent County, flowing into the Grand River in Lowell. Other cities it flows through along the way include Greenville and Belding.[4]

The river was an important water route and fishing source for the Grand River Band of Ottawa who lived along it in the 18th and 19th centuries.[5]

Two historic covered bridges cross the river. One, the Fallasburg Bridge, in Vergennes Township, Kent County is in Fallasburg County Park a few miles north of Lowell. The other, Whites Bridge is a few miles to the northeast in adjacent northwest Keene Township, Ionia County, near Smyrna.[4] On July 7, 2013, an arson fire destroyed White's Bridge.[6] Fund-raising efforts are underway in attempt to have the bridge rebuilt. At the time of its destruction, it was the oldest covered bridge of its kind in Michigan.[7]

There are 5 dams along the river: Greenville, Belding, Whites Bridge, Burroughs and Lowell.[4]

It is the river named in the song "Sad Ballad of Jack Haggerty", sometimes known as "Flat River Girl."

Flat River in Michigan, ca. 1910 vintage postcard


  1. ^ United States Environmental Protection Agency. "Watershed Report: Flat River". watersgeo.epa.gov. Archived from the original on 2021-07-01. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  2. ^ "Daniel Marsac". Collections and Researches Made by the Pioneer and Historical Society of the State of Michigan. Vol. 38. Lansing, MI: Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Company. 1912. p. 60.
  3. ^ History of Ionia County, Michigan, Her People, Industries and Institutions. Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Co. 1916. p. 462.
  4. ^ a b c Flat River Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  5. ^ McClurken, James M. (2009). Our People, Our Journey: The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press. p. 12. ISBN 9780870138560.
  6. ^ "History in the rubble: How arson-struck Whites Bridge became a West Michigan landmark". 8 July 2013.
  7. ^ "One year after fire, signs of progress in effort to rebuild Whites Bridge". 6 July 2014.

External links[edit]

Media related to Flat River (Michigan) at Wikimedia Commons