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CASS RIVER DAM – CIRCA JULY 1925: Jim Howe of the Star of the West Milling Company shared these recently discovered photos of the Cass River Dam. Richard Krafft Jr. told Howe they were in a fireproof vault at the mill. While the initial wood dam was built in 1847 – two years following the founding of Frankenmuth – it was covered in concrete in the summer of 1925. Above is one of nine that shows the construction in progress. Watch for more photos in future issues of the News.
Fish passage project nearly done' ribbon-cutting set for October 27
The Cass River Fish Passage Project should be a thing of the past by the of October.
Twelve-plus years in the planning stage, the in-water work should be completed by the end of the week by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and CTI & Associates of Wixom.
“This is the last week of work upstream of the original dam as crews completed installation of weirs 1, 2 and 3. Vanes 1 and 2 were finished last week as well as the replacement wet well for the pump that feeds the irrigation system at The Fortress Golf Club,” Frankenmuth Downtown Development Authority Director Sheila Stamiris said. Stamiris is also the city’s project manager.
The project has been flowing along, however, one small glitch occurred as the crews moved up the south bank. A load of stone broke an 85-year-old water main crossing under the river. The city has three river crossings, using two at any given time.
“We are working with the Corps to identify our options and have decided at this time to abandon the old cast iron main and build a new one. The main had been on the repair list for more than 10 years; the project just moved up the list. The goal is to have the new line in place before the hard frost,” Stamiris pointed out.
The first two weirs, furthest up stream, are using the largest stone in the project and both footer and header stones are the same size to withstand high velocity and high water levels and ice floes. Well over 18,000 tons of stone have been placed – nearly 80 percent of the contract quantity.
The old concrete and debris from the select demolition of the dam was removed off site. Some of the unique items from the demolition, including wood support beams, lag bolts, a horse shoe and a section of square rebar (not manufactured since before the 1930s) has been donated to the Frankenmuth Historical Museum. Rebar still in the dam structure has been broken off and removed as stone is placed over the remaining dam structure during the weir 2 construction.
The south riverbank has been armored with stone to help prevent erosion. The construction access road will be narrowed slightly, covered with stone and dirt and then seeded. The access road will remain in place for use by service trucks in the future or by those wishing to transport kayaks or canoes around the rock ramp.
A total of 20 trees will be planted out of the floodplain to replace trees cut earlier for the project and to screen the Waste Water Treatment Plant and storage area.
CTI will also carve out a new scour hole below the rock ramp. The scour hole replaces the naturally occurring one that was located just below the original dam.
“Once the last stop for fish that could not swim past the dam, this new scour hole will be a resting place for fish before swimming through the rock ramp and it will likely be a favorite area for fishermen as well,” Stamiris said.
Stamiris expects the out-of-water site clean up to be completed by mid-October.
A ribbon-cutting and celebration luncheon are scheduled for 11am on Tuesday, October 27. The ribbon cutting will be held on Gunzenhausen Street and will be free to the public.
Gunzenhausen will be closed to traffic during the morning and tents will be set up and used in the event of inclement weather.
At noon, a celebration luncheon will be held at Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth. The restaurant will serve family-style walleye and chicken. More details on the luncheon will appear in future issues of the News.
The end is near for Stamiris, as this fish passage project has been on the drawing board for the past 12 years. But she admits she had a lot of help from the city staff, including City Manager Charlie Graham and DPW Superintendent Randy Braeutigam.
“There are heroes in every project and I credit Charlie with helping me hold the many strings of this project together as we get to the finish line. I credit Randy with having so much knowledge of the inner workings of the physical Frankenmuth. He knows so much about how the city runs,” Stamiris stated. “Randy not only knows his stuff, but he is practical, honest and knows how to get things done. We would all be lost without him.”
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