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Grand River Gaging Station (Portland)

A cache by gvsu4msu Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 5/13/2008
1.5 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size: not chosen (not chosen)

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Geocache Description:



This earthcache is designed to show the how today’s rivers are monitored/regulated. The above coordinates above will take you to a USGS gage station. USGS is the United States Geological Survey. These gauging stations are used for water resources, specifically the Grand River in this case. The station here is continuously measuring the depth and the amount of flow of the river.

It is very important to monitor, and control the river’s flow for several reasons. We can start with the control of flooding or at least the warning of flooding. An important reason for this gauging and regulating of the river is to limit erosion of the river banks. Though erosion will always take place it can be held to a minimal. Ground water also depends on these regulated flows. Ground waters include some small lakes, marshes and wetlands.

A gaging station is a facility used by hydrologists and others to monitor streams, rivers, lakes, canals, reservoirs, and other bodies of water. Gaging stations typically collect information such as water height and discharge (flow). The collected information is recorded by a site visit or is transmitted via telephone or a satellite communication system to the stations owner.

Logging Requirements

To log this cache you will need to complete the following.
  1. Post a picture of yourself/team with your GPSr and the gage house in the background
  2. E-mail the flow rates at the time of your visit, and for the corresponding week prior - Real time data for this gage station
  3. E-mail the water lever the river was at the time of your visit, and for the corresponding week prior. - Real time data for this gage station
  4. Also look at the flow rate and water level data for the Grand River Gaging Station in Grand Rapids for the same time period you visited THIS Gaging Station.
  5. In your e-mail, provide a brief explanation of the differences in the water flow rate and depth during the week for THIS Gaging Station.
  6. Also provide a brief explanation of what contributes to differences in the water flow rate for the two gage stations for the DAY you visited this gaging station.
  • Be sure to include the time you were there
  • If prior week data is not available due to equipment malfunction, use data for the day when equipment was functioning properly again.
  • Each Cacher that logs a find is required to submit answers to the questions above*** (failure to comply will result in a deletion of your log).
  • The purpose of Earthcaches is for everyone to learn from their visit/experience
  • Combined photos are acceptable, but each cacher must be identified.
All that should be posted with your log will be a photo.
The answers should be e-mailed to us (via our profile) and not posted in your log.
Go ahead and log your find at the same time you're sending your email answers.

*** = the only exception to this are young kids that are caching with their parents (who have their own account, but not computer privileges).

Grand River Gaging Station (Portland)

The Grand River Gaging Station (Portland) is operated by the USGS (United States Geological Survey). This gaging station records water height, discharge and transmits its data back to the USGS headquarters in real time by telephone.

The Grand River is the longest river in the U.S. state of Michigan. It runs 260 miles (420 km) through the cities of Jackson, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Grand Haven, and the counties of Hillsdale, Jackson, Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Ionia, Kent, and Ottawa before emptying into Lake Michigan.

The Grand River watershed drains an area of 5,572 mile² (14,431 km²). The Grand River carries an average 3,800 ft³/s (108 m³/s).
It has several dams along its length but is a trout and salmon stream for much of its length.


Much of the basin is flat and it contains many swamps and lakes. Nevertheless, there is an elevation difference of 700 feet (213 m) between the source and mouth of the river. Tributaries are the Red Cedar River, Looking Glass River, Maple River, Flat River, Thornapple River, and the Rogue River. The Grand River Watershed is comprised of two parts, the Upper Grand River watershed and the Lower Grand River Watershed.

The Upper Grand River Watershed is a 572,376-acre watershed in parts of Hillsdale, Jackson, Eaton, Washtenaw and Ingham Counties.

The Lower Grand River watershed is approximately 3,020 square miles in parts of  Newago, Montcalm, Muskegon, Kent, Ottawa, Ionia, Barry and Eaton Counties. The waterrshed also includes the Thornapple River, Flat River, and Rogue River Watersheds, which flow into the Grand River, and enters Lake Michigan at Grand Haven. This  gaging station is located in the Lower Grand River Watershed in Ionia County.

Here is an interactive map of the Grand River Watershed (A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common point)

The posted coordinates above will lead you to the gage "house". The original Gage House was a brick structure holds the stream gaging equipment - typically a gage of some type, a computer, and communications equipment. A stilling well or a vertical pipe was located beneath the gage house. Water enters the well through one or more inlet pipes. The water in the well rises to the same level as the stream. Recording equipment in the gage house recorded the water level in the well. Communications equipment transmits the data to the USGS. Due to recent reconstruction of the Kent Street Bridge, a new Gage station has been constructed, see photo below.

Parking is available
approximately 300 feet south of the gaging station. There is a slight pullout on the right shoulder.

Station operated in cooperation with
Consumers Energy and the City of Portland

This station is managed by the LANSING FIELD OFFICE

This is the NEW gaging station for the Grand River at this location.
Reconstruction of the bridge must have caused the change?

Here is a historical picture of what used to be the Gage House

Here is a historical picture of the inside of the former Gage House

A picture looking upstream

A picture of the confluence of the Grand River and Looking Glass River

Gaging Station History
In the 1880's, John Wesley Powell, the second director of the USGS, requested that stream flow be monitored in eight river basins in the West. It was his idea to measure the flow of streams and rivers and determine the viability of irrigation systems for this acrid region. In 1889, the first U.S. stream gaging station was established on the Rio Grande River in New Mexico. At this station, standard stream flow measurement procedures were devised.

Today, the USGS operates and maintains more than 85% of the nation's stream gaging stations. There are over 7,000 stream gaging stations in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Territories of the Pacific Islands.

The USGS uses it's stream gaging network to provide a free continuous source of well documented and archived water data. This data is used by government agencies and private companies to forecast flooding, design bridges, allocate drinking and irrigation water, for recreational use, and to manage our valuable surface water resources.

Real time data for this gage station may be found the internet at:

Addtional Stuff

Grand River (MI) RED JEEP Travel Bug - click here to read the logs

The highest water level measurement was 12.98 ft on 04/21/1975

The lowest water level measurement was 3.8 ft on 10/10/1963

Grand River was called the Owashtanong River by the Ottawa, Chippewa and Pattawatomi tribes which originally inhabited the area, and was formed by the same Ice Age glaciers that created the Great Lakes.


Additional Hints (No hints available.)



170 Logged Visits

Found it 166     Write note 3     Publish Listing 1     

View Logbook | View the Image Gallery of 165 images

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Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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