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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Every spring and fall this forum sees multiple threads concerning fishing for steelheads and salmon on the Betsie R. in Benzie County. Homestead Dam, of course, is mentioned prominently in these discussions. Most MS members who have fished the Betsie R. are familiar with the low-barrier dam that is now in place. They are too young to remember the old Homestead Hydroelectric Dam that was once located where the present dam now sits.

Construction of the hydroelectric dam was begun in 1912 and completed in 1913/14. It remained in place until the early 1970s. There was a fish ladder/trap located between the turbine outflow and the spillway. The Michigan Conservation Dept. (As the DNRE was called at the time) would remove fish from the trap and dump them upstream of the dam. I'm not sure as to the effectivness of this project other than my father did catch a large steelhead well upstream of the dam. This fish had been put over the dam by MCD personell.


This photo of the old Homestead Hydroelectric Dam was taken from the north side of the river at about the place below the present low-barrier dam where there is now a small landing at the bottom of the steps leading back to the parking lot.





This photo was taken from the south side of the river. During the steelhead run anglers would line the tall, concrete wall on the opposite side of the river to fish. The best spot was right next to the power house and this was also true of the fish ladder structure that you see angling down from the powerhouse between the turbine outlet and the spillway.





This is the upper end of the impoundment pond created by the Homestead Hydroelectric Dam. You can see what is now Homestead Resort (is that still the name?), Dam Rd. which comes into the river from the north and Love Rd. can also be seen as well as the parking lot.

You guys and gals now have a perspective of what the old Homestead Dam looked like back in the "old" days. I first fished there with my Dad for steelheads back in 1955.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm doing some online research through both Field and Stream and Sports Afield to see if I can find an article written in the early '50s about steelhead fishing at Homestead Dam. It had some photos of the area including at least one taken from downstream near the first bend and looking back at the dam. This was long before the internet and there anglers virtually elbow to elbow from the dam down to where the photo was taken.

I remember my Dad saying the article was written by Mort Neff, but this "fact" might be distilled by the years of water that have flowed over this particular dam...:lol:
 

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I'm doing some online research through both Field and Stream and Sports Afield to see if I can find an article written in the early '50s about steelhead fishing at Homestead Dam. It had some photos of the area including at least one taken from downstream near the first bend and looking back at the dam. This was long before the internet and there anglers virtually elbow to elbow from the dam down to where the photo was taken.

I remember my Dad saying the article was written by Mort Neff, but this "fact" might be distilled by the years of water that have flowed over this particular dam...:lol:
Whit, what was grayling fishing like back then, before the Big War?

Sorry, that was totally uncalled for and I was trying to be funny, not insulting.

I am 40 and likely couldn't come close to keeping up with you on your opening day hike in that I'm looking forward to reading about. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Whit, what was grayling fishing like back then, before the Big War?

Sorry, that was totally uncalled for and I was trying to be funny, not insulting.

I am 40 and likely couldn't come close to keeping up with you on your opening day hike in that I'm looking forward to reading about. :)

Youse guyz are meanies!..........:lol:

As you know that is a hike to get into my Opening Day Hole and I can still do it in the total dark of predawn. There'll be a time when that won't be possible and I'll have to go to Plan B which is ready in the wings....or should that be fins?..:)
 

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Youse guyz are meanies!..........:lol:

As you know that is a hike to get into my Opening Day Hole and I can still do it in the total dark of predawn. There'll be a time when that won't be possible and I'll have to go to Plan B which is ready in the wings....or should that be fins?..:)


You used one of those box cameras with the flash on a tray to take the pictures??? :evil: :lol:
 

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Whit that is a great post! Ive only fishes the betsie for a few years but have always wondered about that dam as it is pretty unique. As a history teacher I also dig the background. Thanks again.
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Great pictures and thanks for the education. There really is some great history in the NW lower. Its amazing how much things change. My first time there was just this past easter weekend and how different it is now from those pictures.

I bet it was really neat being able to explore the river via horseback.

Sorry, it just seemed so fun that those other guys got to make a crack, I couldn't help it.

Seriously though, great post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

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Thats pretty good stuff right there, always wondered what it looked like. Didn't there used to be a dam up by Thompsonville as well?? I don't remember the dam as I didn't fish there until a few afters its demise, but I do remember the substation on the north side of the river, as that hasn't been gone all that long.
 

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Thats pretty good stuff right there, always wondered what it looked like. Didn't there used to be a dam up by Thompsonville as well?? I don't remember the dam as I didn't fish there until a few afters its demise, but I do remember the substation on the north side of the river, as that hasn't been gone all that long.
I am old enough to remember as a child the dam in T-Ville.

Old Substation this was spring of 97 I think.

 

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Thanks for sharing the pics whit. I always wondered what the old dam looked like. The first time I got to fish there was in 1982 as a kid and it looks the same today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thats pretty good stuff right there, always wondered what it looked like. Didn't there used to be a dam up by Thompsonville as well?? I don't remember the dam as I didn't fish there until a few afters its demise, but I do remember the substation on the north side of the river, as that hasn't been gone all that long.
Bill, what was left of the dam at Thompsonville...only the base of the spillway...washed out in Sept. of '84 in a huge, three day deluge of rain that swept over MI. I do remember the dam itself, but not when it was used for power. Of course there was a large pool below the dam which drew a lot of anglers on the Last Saturday in April. With the exception of the few steelheads that were dumped over Homestead Dam few of those fish reached as far upstream as the T'ville Dam.
 
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