You have likely heard. The water level in Lake Michigan is high. You may have read about beautiful homes perched on a cliff overlooking the lake in danger of falling into the lake. There was even, at least, one home that was bulldozed to prevent it from falling into the lake. Like some new stories for me, I understand the story, but I may not really “feel” the story. A full understanding, with insight and empathy, isn’t in my brain. This post discusses the impact of Lake Michigan’s high water on the smaller town of Pentwater, Michigan. This is my attempt to bring the story “home.”
This post is simply my point of view. I am not an expert or knowledgeable enough to analyze, to describe in scientific detail or to predict the situation. It’s just what I saw while visiting the little village. But first, some background.
When coming into the town off the main interstate, the road runs along the Pentwater River (where we kayaked). Next, there is a dam at Longbridge Road which turns the river into Pentwater Lake. The Lake leads to channel which in turn leads out to Lake Michigan. So, river, dam, lake, channel and big lake. Got it?
You can see the impact of the high water on the drive into town. There are two long sections of the road lined with barricades to hold back the water.
The dam is closer as you get near town, and the road over the dam is called Longbridge Road. Even last year, Longbridge Road was having issues. There are a number of homes on the other side of Pentwater Lake. The only access to the services located in Pentwater is across Longbridge Road. Longbridge Road was closed for a while because of the water, so the town of Pentwater created a water taxi to help people get from one side to the other. Obviously, the businesses in town had a vested interest in this.
As a side note, the water taxi now also serves as a provider of “sunset cruises” where for $20 per person, it will take you out on Lake Michigan right at….sunset. I saw this water taxi for the first time on our last night as we watched the sunset from the beach. When I mentioned what it was, my daughter said, “Why haven’t we done that?” So, that is on the agenda for next year.
Once past the dam, you’re getting closer to the main downtown area of Pentwater. There was a short detour on the main road right as it enters the heart of the town, near the marina.
At the other end of the small town, is the state park. The beach area in the state park is much shorter this year. What I mean is the number of feet from the sidewalk to the water’s edge was much less. However, I am not very good at guessing how many feet something is, so I will leave it at that.
We could also easily see how much higher the water was along the channel and the pier. Several times throughout our stay, when the wind was strong, the pier would be closed. The pier is closed from time to time for safety reasons. However, I have never seen it closed. I would guess over the length of our stay, it closed 4 times.
At the end of the pier are, what everyone calls, the mermaid rocks. In years past, brave souls will venture out on these large boulders. Not this year. The rocks are almost all under water.
I know there are other impacts of the Lake’s high water. This is just what I easily saw on our visit. The impact of the high water levels was everywhere throughout this one small town.
I sure hope things calm down.