River Rouge (Michigan)

River Rouge (Michigan)

The River Rouge, also known as the Rouge River, is a river in the Metro Detroit area of southeastern Michigan. It flows into the Detroit River at Zug Island, which is the boundary between the cities of River Rouge and Detroit. Traditionally, the river has been heavily polluted. However, it has become much cleaner since a massive cleanup was implemented in the 1990s. [ [http://www.americanrivers.org/site/DocServer/rouge_river_ohio.pdf?docID=537 Friends of the Rouge River & The River Rouge Project] , accessed September 24, 2008] Further cleanup measures are ongoing.

The river's roughly 467 square-mile watershed includes all or parts of 48 municipalities with a population of over 1,500,000 and drains a large portion of central and northwest Wayne County, as well as a much of southern Oakland County and a small area in eastern Washtenaw County. Nearly the entire drainage basin is in urban and suburban areas, with areas of intensive residential and industrial development. Yet, more than 50 miles of the River Rouge flow through public lands, making it one of the most accessible rivers in the state.

The river is notable for being the site of the Ford Motor Company River Rouge Plant, built between 1915 and 1927, when it was the first manufacturing facility for automobiles that included within the plant virtually everything needed to produce the cars: blast furnaces, an open hearth mill, a steel rolling mill, a glass plant, a huge power plant and, of course, an assembly line. The lower 1.5 miles of the river south of Michigan Avenue were channelized, widened, and dredged to allow freighter access to Ford's Rouge plant inland factory facilities. Despite flowing through such heavily industrial areas, the river's pollution comes mostly from residential storm water runoff. Industry is responsible for only 2% of the pollution. [ [http://www.therouge.org/Rouge%20Info/rouge_river%20info.htm Friends of the Rouge River] , Accessed September 24, 2008]

Henry Ford built an estate on the river in Dearborn, upriver from the manufacturing plant, on what is now the campus of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. A portion of the estate is preserved and more of it is held as a nature study area since 1956. Since 1992, the [http://www.rrbo.org Rouge River Bird Observatory] has operated on the campus.

Greenfield Village, part of The Henry Ford museum complex, is just downriver from the estate. The Henry Ford, billed as "America's Greatest History Attraction" is a major tourist destination in the area.

The River Rouge totals 126 miles in length and is divided into four branches, the main, upper, middle, and lower branches. The upper branch flows into the main branch in northwest Detroit, just east of Redford Township. The middle branch enters the main branch in Dearborn Heights just north of boundary with Dearborn. The lower branch joins less than two miles downstream in Dearborn.

Main branch

The headwaters of the main branch rise in the southwest corner of Rochester Hills and the northeast corner of Bloomfield Township. It flows mostly south through the western part of Troy, and then flows southwest through Birmingham, a noncontiguous portion of Bloomfield Township, Beverly Hills, the southeast corner of Bingham Farms, Southfield. It then flows mostly south through western Detroit and Dearborn Heights, then turns southeast in Dearborn and continues along the northern edges of Allen Park, Melvindale, River Rouge and the southern edge of Detroit. Other municipalities that are part of the main branch watershed are Auburn Hills Bloomfield Hills, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Franklin, Lathrup Village, Oak Park, Orchard Lake, Pontiac, Southfield Township, and West Bloomfield Township.

Major tributaries of the main branch include:
*Franklin River (also known as the Franklin branch of the River Rouge)
*Pebble Creek
*Evans Ditch
*Upper Branch (see below)
*Ashcroft-Sherwood Drain
*Middle Branch (see below)
*Lower Branch (see below)
*Ruby Creek

Upper branch

The headwaters of the upper branch rise in the southwest West Bloomfield Township, the southeast corner of Commerce Township, and the northeast corner of Novi. It forms in Farmington Hills with the confluence of Minnow Pond Drain and Seeley Drain, where it flows mostly southeast through Farmington, Livonia, Redford Township and enters the main branch in the northwest Detroit neighborhood of Brightmoor, Detroit.

Tributaries of the upper branch include (from downriver to upriver)
*Bell Branch
**Show Drain
**Blue Drain
**Bell Drain
**Tarabusi Creek
*Minnow Pond Drain
*Seeley Drain

Middle branch

The middle branch forms in Northville in northwest Wayne County with the confluence of the "Walled Lake branch" and Johnson Drain. The Walled Lake branch rises in Novi in a marshy drainage area south of Walled Lake, in southwest Oakland County. Johnson Drain rises in Salem Township in northeast Washtenaw County. From Northville, the middle branch flows south through Northville Township and Plymouth Township before turning to the southeast in the city of Plymouth. From Plymouth, it continues through the southwest corner of Livonia into Westland, then along the northern edge of Garden City and into Dearborn Heights where it merges with the upper branch near the southern boundary with Dearborn. Other municipalities that are part of the middle branch watershed are Canton Township, Commerce Township, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Lyon Township, Redford Township, and Wixom.

Tributaries of the middle branch include (from downriver to upriver)
*Bill's Drain
*Red Run Drain
*Wilson Drain
*Tonquish Creek
**Willow Creek
*Johnson Drain
*Walled Lake branch
**Thornton Creek
**Ingersol Creek
***Bishop Creek

Lower branch

The lower branch rises in sections 11 and 12 in Superior Township in Washtenaw County and flows mostly eastward into Wayne County through Canton Township, Wayne, Westland, Inkster, Dearborn Heights and Dearborn. Other communities in the lower branch watershed include Van Buren Township, Plymouth Township, Salem Township, Ypsilanti Township.

Tributaries include (from downriver to upriver):
*Hunter Drain
*Hannan Drain
*Fellows Creek
*McKinstry Drain
*Sinds Drain
*Fowler Creek
*Parks Drain


External links

* [http://cfpub.epa.gov/surf/huc.cfm?huc_code=04090004 River Rouge Watershed] , on the EPA site
* [http://www.rougeriver.com/ The Rouge River Project]
* [http://www.henryfordestate.com/index.html The Henry Ford Estate]
* [http://www.thehenryford.com/default.asp The Henry Ford] , includes sections on Greenfield Village and Ford's River Rouge Plant
* [http://www.therouge.org Friends of the Rouge]
* [http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3313_3682_3714_31581-127729--,00.html MI DEQ Rouge River] , Michigan State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Rouge River Watershed
* [http://waterdata.usgs.gov/mi/nwis/uv?cb_00060=on&cb_00065=on&format=gif_stats&period=20&site_no=04167000 USGS realtime flow/level] , USGS realtime flow & water level of Middle Rouge at Garden City

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