Kayaking the Outlet

Kayaking the Outlet

“The Outlet” was the point where the folks of the area learned a lesson about the importance of being very sure about your measurements. In my favorite book about the history of Northern Michigan, Waiting for the Morning Train, Bruce Catton explains how a project to connect Crystal Lake to the Betsie River and ultimate Frankfort and Lake Michigan went horribly awry after a surveyor got the relative elevations wrong by over 25 feet.

The historical marker reads:

In 1873 an ambitious but ill advised project was put through in an effort to connect Crystal Lake and Lake Michigan with a navigable channel. The original level of Crystal Lake was, at that time, much higher than its present level. The project was a complete failure in respect to its accomplishing its proposed purpose. The result was the lowering of the lake and exposing a wide stretch of beach around the entire lake and making possible the development of Crystal Lake as a resort and residential area as well as the site of the village of Beulah. This monument, erected by the people of Benzie County, stands at the original level of Crystal Lake. 1978.

Laura & I “kayaked” the mile+ of distance from the Outlet to the Betsie yesterday. Most of the way was hard going, many times more “dragging a kayak through a puddle”, but it was an incredible journey with all kinds of wildflowers and TONS of dragonflies.

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3 thoughts on “Kayaking the Outlet

  1. Nate Richardson says:

    What a great adventure! Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, where I work, is currently working on an expansion of the current Railroad Point Natural Area, which includes the outlet, that would protect much of the stretch from the outlet to the Betsie River.

  2. farlane says:

    That would be very cool Nate! Definitely keep me posted.

  3. Laura says:

    Most of the trip was dragging a kayak well bushwhacking through an overgrown creek. All because I was too lazy to paddle upwind back to my beach. Oh, wait, it was because I haven’t been down the betsie yet this year and I was that determined to get to it. What an amazing adventure.

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