The University Record, November 13, 2000

Book explores 130 miles of Huron River

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

Cover art by Ron Fraker, U-M Press
Stories, essays, poems, maps, photographs and illustrations celebrate the 130 miles of the Huron River in a book recently published by the U-M Press that takes readers from the Huron Swamp and Big Lake to the marshes of Lake Erie at Pointe Mouillee, and through Oakland, Livingston, Washtenaw, Wayne and Monroe counties.

Edited by John Knott, professor of English, and environmental writer and activist Keith Taylor, The Huron River: Voices from the Watershed presents visions and voices of the river’s past, present and its future. The Huron has maintained its present course for about 12,000 years and has evolved over that time as have its banks, marshes, bogs, vegetation, fish and fauna.

Even with the influx of concentrated development, the Huron is still considered a relatively healthy river, “generally regarded as the best in southeast Michigan,” the editors report. While the earliest settlers made their way from Detroit up the Huron by flatboat as far as what is now Belleville, today’s river traffic is comprised of mostly fiberglass canoes and kayaks.

“Several of our contributors explore the history of a particular part of the watershed, usually with an eye to its relevance to current issues and habits of living,” the editors write.

Ken Mikolowski’s ‘View’

The view of the river “from the eighth floor University Hospital room is not the same as from the Arboretum. I guess it’s the perspective.”

From Janet Kaufman’s ‘Buried Water,’ a ballad by ‘An Anonymous Farmer’

If you are sad, with sickness worn;
And have the headache every morn;
Just come and drink a healing horn;
Of Ypsilanti’s water.

There’s forty new baths agoing,
And all the healing waters flowing,
Better days and health bestowing,
On many a wear one.

It’s true, it has a woeful smell,
But if your stomach don’t rebel
It’s just the thing to make you well
And praise up Ypsilanti.

From “Clamming on the Huron” and “Our Lady of the River” to “The Drowning of the Rhea” and “On the Huron River Drive,” the book offers new ways of looking at an old friend that will be with us for perhaps another 12,000 years.