As Hurricane Beryl rains down on Michigan, much of West MI is under a flood watch sustained rainfall is suspected throughout the Midwest. Since making landfall as a category 1 hurricane, Beryl has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone. However, that has not stopped it from dumping nearly 6 inches of rain across parts of the state.


'Road Floods During Rain' warning sign against overcast sky in the rain.


With this flooding, it brings to mind Michigan's worst flooding on record: the Great Log Jam of 1883. A definitively Grand Rapids flood that saw an unreal number of logs heading straight down the Grand River would have destroyed the economy of the area were it not for the acts of brave lumbermen in the area.


The Great Log Jam of 1883

After a summer of consistent rainfall, areas in the region saw mass flooding that eventually caused the Grand River to rise to record highs. This also led to logs from lumberyards breaking free of their enclosures, falling into the river, and creating a pileup of unseen proportions.

log flood grand river
Flood Waters from West Bridge St. 1883. #001328 (copy 2), City Engineerying Dept., Community Archives and Research Center (CARC). Grand Rapids, MI via

While the Grand River as we know it today is relatively calm since the rapids were removed, at the time the rapids were in full swing and carried the logs for a whopping 47 miles. The onslaught of logs led to railroad bridges collapsing and logs streaming through downtown GR. The city was so flooded that residents were able to paddle a boat down the streets.

men in boat grand river 1883
Flood Waters, West Bridge & Stocking. 1883. #001316 (copy 2) City Engineering Dept., Community Archives and Research Center (CARC). Grand Rapids, MI via

If it wasn't for the efforts of the lumberman stopping the logs from streaming into Lake Michigan, none of the logs could have been recovered, leaving the Furniture Captial of the World in economic ruin. For a more detailed breakdown of the flood, MLive has a timeline of events and the Grand Rapids Historical Organization has extensive coverage of all things GR.

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