52 Weeks of Fun

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, Michigan Karst Conservancy

Hendrie River Water Cave

The Hendrie River is a 30.7-mile-long tributary of the Tahquamenon River on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is the longest cave system in Michigan. The cave is part of the 480-acre preserve owned by the Michigan Karst Conservancy since 1987. It was the site of a limestone quarry from 1905 to 1936 which supplied high-calcium limestone to Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Remnants of the quarry are still visible today including the railroad house and ore-car loader in the heart of the old quarry and foundations of other various structures.

Karst features such as sinks, springs and caves were formed by water from swamps and streams south and west of the preserve dissolving limestone along joints and bedding planes in the escarpment as it drained underground toward Hendrie River to the north and east. The Hendrie River flows through the water cave, forming the cave at 1500 feet in length. A stream exits from the cave to form the west branch of the Hendrie River.

As caves go, Hendrie River Water Cave appears to be quite young, carved in the past 7,000-10,000 years since the last glaciers in the area melted. The cave “ends” and the stream sumps in a circular passage known as the Goop Loop. The stream resurges in a spring about a mile away. Lower passages of the cave are prone to flood after heavy rains.

, Down Wind Sports MI
, Yooper

A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Hendrie River Water Cave

Not suited for amateur explorers, the preserve has four other caves on the property, including the Quarry Cave, which is probably the remnant of a larger cave destroyed by the quarry operations.

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