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St. Joseph River (MI) Gaging Station

A cache by gvsu4msu Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 6/30/2008
1.5 out of 5
1.5 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 St Joseph River in this case. The station here is continuously measuring the depth and the amount of flow of the river. This earthcache is set up for you to gain familiarity with the river and its water levels (not just visiting a box).

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 with your GPSr and the gage house in the background
  2. Post a picture of yourself/team with your GPSr and the bridge in the background.
  3. E-mail the flow rates a the time of your visit, and for the corresponding week prior -  Real time data for this gage station
  4. Provide a brief explanation as to what has contributed to the levels being different.
  5. 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
  6. Provide a brief explanation as to what has contributed to the levels being different.
  • 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).

St. Joseph River Gaging Station

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

The St. Joseph River (locally known as the St. Joe) is a river, approximately 210 mi (338 km) long, in southern Michigan and northern Indiana in the United States. It drains a primarily rural farming area in the watershed of Lake Michigan. It was enormously important in the days of Native Americans and the colonial settlement as a canoe route between Lake Michigan and the watershed of the Mississippi River. It is sometimes known as St. Joseph River of Lake Michigan to distinguish it from the nearby St. Joseph River in the Maumee River watershed.

The St. Joseph River rises in southern Michigan in Hillsdale County near Baw Beese Lake, within 5 mi (8 km) of the headwaters of the St. Joseph River in the Maumee watershed. It follows a zigzag route generally westward across southern Michigan, dipping into northern Indiana. From its headwaters it flows initially northwest past Hillsdale into southeastern Calhoun County, then turns abruptly southwest to flow past Tekonsha, Union City, and Sherwood. At Three Rivers it is joined from the north by the Rocky and Portage Rivers, then 3 mi (5 km) further southwest by the Prairie River from the east.

The river continues southward into northern Indiana, flowing west through Elkhart and South Bend, where it turns abruptly to north to re-enter southwestern Michigan in southeastern Berrien County. In southwestern Michigan it follows a wide meandering route generally northwest through Niles and past Berrien Springs. It enters Lake Michigan between St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, receiving the Paw Paw River from the north approximately 1 mi (1.6) km from its mouth on Lake Michigan.

The St. Joseph River Watershed is located in the southwest portion of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and northwestern portion of Indiana. It spans the Michigan-Indiana border and empties into Lake Michigan at St. Joseph, Michigan. The watershed drains 4,685 square miles from 15 counties (Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren in Michigan and De Kalb, Elkhart, Kosciusko, Lagrange, Noble, St. Joseph and Steuben in Indiana). The watershed includes 3,742 river miles and flows through and near the Kalamazoo-Portage, the Elkhart-Goshen, the South Bend and the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor metropolitan areas. The watershed is largely agricultural. More than 50% of the riparian habitat is agricultural/urban, while 25-50% remains forested.

Here is a map of the
counties in the St. Joseph 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. This 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 is 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 records the water level in the well. Communications equipment transmits the data to the USGS.

Station operated in cooperation with the
French Paper Company

This station is managed by the LANSING FIELD OFFICE

Here is a (older) picture of the bridge over the St Joseph River. There is a bike/pedestrian path that runs under the bridge now.

Here is a file photo of the St. Joseph River looking Downstream of the Gaging Stagion

Here is a file photo of the St. Joseph River looking Upstream of the Gaging Stagion

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

The St. Joseph River (MI) 2007 RED JEEP Travel Bug - Click here to view logs

Historical Crests
(1) 15.10 ft on 04/05/1950
(2) 14.97 ft on 03/21/1982
(3) 14.96 ft on 02/25/1985
(4) 14.19 ft on 01/09/2008
(5) 13.78 ft on 05/26/1943

Low Water Records
(1) 4.0 ft on 08/30/1931
(2) 4.5 ft on 07/30/2002
(3) 5.1 ft on 04/28/2003

Additional Hints (No hints available.)



305 Logged Visits

Found it 297     Write note 7     Publish Listing 1     

View Logbook | View the Image Gallery of 446 images

**Warning! Spoilers may be included in the descriptions or links.

Current Time:
Last Updated:
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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