Ford Lake Dam
Location Name: Ford Lake Dam (Washtenaw County, Michigan)
Location Type: Dam
Year Completed: 1932
Architect(s): Built by Ford Motor Company
The Ford Lake Dam and hydroelectric power plant was envisioned by automotive pioneer Henry Ford in the early 1930s. As was being done at several other sites in Metro Detroit, Ford Motor Company built the dam to provide the electricity needed to power to the nearby Ypsilanti plant. The first incarnation of the current structure was a temporary coffer bam built in October 1931 along the Huron River. As the Huron River began to rise behind the new dam, the larger dam and hydroelectric plant were under construction. The permanent dam was completed in October 1932 and the new Ford Lake impoundment covered the Huron River lowlands just east of Ypsilanti.
Inside the dam’s hydroelectric power plant, twin Leffel turbines are spun by the water as the Huron River flows through the dam. These turbines can generate up to 2,100 kilowatts of electricity. In terms of power, the dam can produce up to 2,800 horsepower from the 33-foot water head. All of the power was then sent to the nearby Ford plant. Atop the dam, Bridge Road carries vehicular traffic over the Huron River; providing the only crossing between Rawsonville Road and Interstate 94. In 1969 Ford Motor Company gifted the dam, powerhouse and 1,000 acres of surrounding land to Ypsilanti Township. Now adjacent to the dam are North and South Hydro Parks; these parks just below the dam are popular among fishermen as the falling water aerates the river and attracts fish.Behind the dam lies Ford Lake. The lake was named for Henry Ford; whose Ford Motor Company built the dam and created the lake in 1932. Today, the 800-acre reservoir is the second largest impoundment on the Huron River (behind Belleville Lake). The average depth of the lake is just over fifteen feet and the surrounding land is rich with parks and residential property.Sources