Why is the Water at Tahquamenon Falls Brown?
No, the Tahquamenon River is not polluted.
The water is a brown, rusty color that might make someone wonder, but the beauty of the whole area takes that thought out of your mind. If watching the falls makes you thirsty, it could be because it resembles root beer. The brown color, the foam...but what makes it brown?
Copper or some other kind of ore?
According to Tahquamenon Falls Camp 33, the color comes from tannins, naturally extracted from the plants and tree bark that sit soaking in shoreline cedar & hemlock swamps. The river flows through these swamps, picking up these polyphenolic biomolecules and carries them continuously down river, cascading over the falls, making me crave a root beer float.
In fact, the falls was/were given a nickname: “The Root Beer Falls” thanks to the tannins.
FAST FALLS FACTS:
1) The Upper Falls is the second largest falls east of the Mississippi River, next to Niagara.
2) Park size: 13 miles, 50,000 acres.
3) Upper Falls Drop: 50 feet.
4) Upper Falls Length across: 200 feet.
5) Upper Falls water flow: 50,000 gallons per second.
6) Number of Lower Falls: Five. (thanks to Newberry Tourism.)
Okay, now.....where does the “Tahquamenon” come from? Nobody knows for sure, but there are theories.
1) It pops up in Longfellow's 'Song Of Hiawatha” in the line “by the rushing Tahquamenaw”.
2) It appeared on a 1671 French Jesuit map as "Outakouaminan".
3) It is derived from an Ojibwa word that means “blueberry” or “dark berry”.
So we really don't know...I guess you'll just have to pick one and adopt it as your own definition.
Now take a look at some vintage Tahquamenon Falls photos below!
TAHQUAMENON FALLS THROUGH THE YEARS
MORE TO EXPLORE: Michigan's Grand Canyon