There was a time, believe it or not, that you could swim and even raft in the Kalamazoo River without having to schedule an appointment to get a tetanus shot afterwards. This of course was back over 40 years ago, way before the waters became uncontrollably polluted. Footage recently discovered shows a much healthier time in the river's life, all the way from 1980, which shows a giant raft race being held. The owner of the video describes their experiences:

There were at least two years of these races on the Kalamazoo River, west of downtown Battle Creek along Jackson Street. Nothing especially spectacular about the event, just a bit of fun when the river wasn't polluted by oil spills and people still did things outside. My little brother Dave and his gang from the Community Hospital lab department predominate, and neither hospital nor lab exist any more. The rafts were all put together with random materials, here with empty reagent tubs! Observers have noted how people were substantially thinner 30 years ago.

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Troubling Times For The River

Back in November 2019, Eagle Creek Renewable Energy lowered the dam they operate at Morrow Lake for emergency repairs, which led to over 365,000 cubic yards of sludge and sediment being dumped into the river. There clean up efforts, short as they were, appear to have been abandoned by them with no sign of returning to clean the mess they've made.

After all the punishment this lake has suffered through the years, who knows if it will ever be safe to enjoy again. Until then, we can enjoy a time where it was safe:

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