Jim and Louise Austin encounter a swift Boardman River running through what was Brown Bridge Pond befor the dams were removed. PHOTO BY DAVE FOLEY
Jim and Louise Austin encounter a swift Boardman River running through what was Brown Bridge Pond befor the dams were removed. PHOTO BY DAVE FOLEY
I first visited the Boardman River in the late 1960s as a camp counselor leading fleets of campers in canoes on three-day trips. The kids loved the miles of swift rushing current and the brief encounter with class II rapids, but hated the flatwater paddling through the four impoundments created by hydro-electric dams. Having to paddle canoes up those long and often windswept reservoirs put the Boardman behind rivers like the Manistee, Pine, AuSable, Platte, and Sturgeon in popularity. 

But that may be changing. When Traverse City Light and Power stopped producing hydroelectric power, a decision was made to remove the dams. When I heard the project was underway, I knew I had to paddle this “new” Boardman River. 

I recruited a group of six fellow paddlers – five of whom were, like me, former Camp Hayo-Went-Ha staffers. 

The entirety of Dave Foley's account of paddling the undammed Boardman River appears in the March 2014 print edition of Silent Sports magazine. To order a copy, call 888-706-4045. Or avoid missing an issue and subscribe online here