Au Train, Michigan, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV+ (varies with level)|
|Avg. Gradient||100 fpm|
|Max Gradient||100 fpm|
|AU TRAIN RIVER AT FOREST LAKE, MI|
|usgs-04044724||400 - 700 cfs||III-IV+||01h20m||~ 218 cfs (too low)|
|Flow is well within penstock capacity, thus reach is undoubtedly barely a trickle of water. Gauge (81 sq.mi. drainage) is downstream of powerplant and reflects flows out of penstock. Dewatered reach contains adequate water only at record peak flows.|
Location: 10 miles SW of Munising, or 30 miles SE of Marquette.
Shuttle Length: 0.8 mile. (See details in "Directions" Tab.)
Character: Possibly runnable dam, boogie water, and two wide, shallow steep slides (unfortunately dewatered, and likely almost never to get boatable flows).
Drainage area at put-in: approximately 80 square miles.
Put-in is approximately 751' elevation (or 777' above the dam).
Take-out is approximately 650' elevation.
Thus total elevation change is approximately 100' (or 127' including the dam).
This makes the 'effective gradient' 166 FPM (100'/0.6 mi), or 212 FPM including the dam.
An astounding pair of wide, steep slides, separated by some boogie water and a few wild waves and holes. Unfortunately, this one is 'constructed backwards' -- the river is fairly narrow though most of the reach, and spreads W-I-D-E as it comes into the two big falls. As a result, with enough water to make the big drops anything more than grungy, it is likely that the lead-in stretches would be wild and fast! However, far more to the point, with the hydro project present, this whole (short) reach is extremely unlikely to ever hold enough water to be boatable. (Best bet is in late April or early May.)
A fine page (with photos of this falls, and many others) is Go WaterFalling.
Addendum: As of spring, 2009, UPPCO was looking into the possibility of selling or abandoning this project (removing the dam). This is prompted by FERC requirements of improvements to the dam and spillway to withstand a theoretical "1000 year flood", and the assessment that the cost of such upgrades would be in excess of the revenues generated by this small hydro facility.
Houghton, MI, July 9, 2010 - Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO), a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group (NYSE: TEG), has closed its sale of the Au Train dam, power plant, and associated lands, along with the transfer of the corresponding Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) operating license, to U.P. Hydro, LLC., a wholly-owned subsidiary of North American Hydro. North American is the largest independent hydroelectric power producer in the Midwest.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.5||Au Train Falls||IV|
The river swings to the left and passes under the penstock (pipe) for the second time (it first passes under it immediately after the dam). Immediately downstream of this second crossing, it drops down a steep sliding falls. The bedrock starts sloping a ways upstream, so get out to scout well before the penstock (if you have not throroughly scouted before you put on).
After a 'corridor' of lesser gradient (populated with smaller ledges, holes, and waves), the river takes a very slight bend to the right and a horizon line will be encountered. Au Train Falls starts out with a ledge of perhaps 5-6' vertical, fairly uniformly across the wide river. (This means the water will be shallow and grungy at the lip of the drop as well as the landing -- expect no 'cushion'.) The bedrock slopes away into a long series of slides, passing under a driveway (to the powerplant) and twisting off to the right. A few more ledges and holes will be encountered before the river tames down as it heads off through the woods.