Thursday, July 3, 2008

Waterfalls: Tobacco River Falls

We interrupt this series on the distant wilds of Saskatchewan to bring you an important message:

I found a new waterfall!

As some of you may recall, I spent the summer of 2006 doing a photo project: cavorting running around the Keweenaw, photographing every single waterfall I could find. In August 2007, I officially finished my tour of named waterfalls when I made it to the elusive Montreal River Falls. The only named falls I haven't seen are Douglass Houghton falls, which I probably never will -- they're on private land, and the owner is famously unhappy about trespassers. Oh, and I photographed the location of the Gratiot River "upper falls," which were stone dry when I went there.

However, there are plenty of unnamed little (and sometimes not so little) waterfalls around the Keweenaw, and every now and then I happen upon a new one. I had seen, in the distant past on someone's website, a photo of some falls "on the Tobacco River." While my friend Becca was visiting this last week, we toured around the Gay/Tobacco River area, and stopped at the Tobacco River park. Naturally, I headed up the river, and lo and behold, there were the waterfalls!

Only one photo turned out, which is the one at the top. Here are the details, for those who are interested:

How to get there: From Houghton, Take M-26 east towards Lake Linden. In Lake Linden, turn right at the sign for Bootjack (this is before M-26 turns left towards Calumet). After about half a mile, turn left onto Traprock Valley Road, and then after just about a mile, turn right onto the Gay Road. In Gay, follow the signs towards Lac La Belle -- you'll end up on the Gay-Lac La Belle road, heading north. After about a mile, you'll see a sign for the Tobacco River park on the right. This is just before a small bridge crossing the river. There's also a neat smokestack base made out of sandstone right at the entrance. Park in the park, and to the north will be the mouth of the Tobacco River. Walk up the river (or cross the road), and poof -- there are the falls! There are a series of small drops, but they're definitely waterfalls.

Now back to your regularly scheduled Regina.


Anonymous said...

After looking over your great waterfall pics I can now say that you've been to a few places that I never have... congratulations! Montreal falls, Ripley Falls (even though I lived just down the street for a time) are two I can name off the bat. Looking at your photos there are a great deal more as well.

However, you missed one at the Quincy Creek! You got the lower falls over the old dam, but if you hike up the river even further you come to the more spectacular upper falls. There the water drops down into a very narrow and deep rock-walled canyon. I saw them in the middle of summer so they weren't that impressive. But I'm sure in the spring they'd be hard to beat!

I was also going to add a spectacular falls along the Eagle River that I thought I only knew about. Turns out they got a name and everything (Fenner's) and you've already been there.


DC said...


Oooh, I can't believe we didn't climb far enough up Quincy Creek. I'll have to go back and do that now! That creek was one of my genuinely accidental finds -- it's a great feeling to come across something so hidden like that.

Fenner's Falls is actually listed in a book I have, "A Guide to 199 Michigan Waterfalls." It's the only place I've ever seen it listed. As I'm sure you know, it takes a bit of effort to get there, but boy are they worth it.

Montreal is 100% worth going to see, especially if you're into camping. There's a perfect campsite at the mouth of the river, and you're near all the good trails into the interior of Keweenaw Point.

Anonymous said...

Quincy Creek is one of my favorite places in the Keweeanaw and more people should go check it out. As for Montreal, its on my short list. Hopefully this summer....

As for Fenner's, it looks like from your photos that you came down from the west (m26) side. Is that how you found it? I happened across it completely by accident as I was searching for the Phoenix Mill coming down from Crestview (which of course doesn't exist). I scaled down a very steep hill to find them but was in awe once I did. That sheer rock wall to the one side is amazing.

Unfortunately my pictures were all crap since my photography skills are lacking. Either the falls were over-exposed or the canyon was under-exposed. I couldn't find a right balance.

On the way back up we stumbled across a trail that makes its way up the steep gorge in a very gradual an easy fashion. You can find it if you go up to Crestview along the railroad grade then hang a left.

DC said...

Yup, I bushwhacked it from M-26. There's actually a tiny path that way, and the you basically have to rock-climb down to the river level.

I still intend to go to Crestview (despite your claims of its non-existence :P), maybe I'll go past the falls on the way!

nailhed said...

Dave, i was here last August, and I of course noticed the big stone chimney ruin near the drive into the park. do you know what operation that wouldve went to? i dont have it marked anywhere.

also, i'm sure you probably noticed the cement ruin of what looked to be some sort of dam or diversion just upriver a bit on the western bank, next to the falls. any idea about that?

DC said...

Yeah, I think that CCE has some info on that -- yep, here we go: Mohawk Mill Pump House. Looks like the Mohawk mill pump house. I think that the cement work farther upstream had to do with pumping as well.