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Cadillac Canal

In March 1989, the Michigan Historical Commission, because of its significance to Cadillac’s development, declared the canal a state historic landmark. A historic marker, placed at the east end of the canal in June 1990, details the canal's history. Big and Little Clam Lakes eventually became known as Lakes Mitchell and Cadillac. An interesting fact about the canal is that in the winter the canal freezes first, but once the lakes freeze, the canal opens for the rest of the winter.

Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell, both very different lakes in aquaculture, are connected by a canal. The canal was a slightly navigatable passage prior to the logging days by canoe, now over the years, it has been cleaned up and now boasts new seawalls on both sides with sidewalks and boat docking for the MDNR Mitchell State Park Camping Facility.

Freeze & Unthaw? Why?

When the temperatures begin to drop in late fall, early winter, our area gets an extra natural reminder that winter is on it's way - the Canal between Lakes Cadillac & Mitchell first freezes, and is frozen for a short period of time, then once the lakes become cold enough to freeze, they are all frozen for a really short period of time, then the canal opens back up for the rest of the winter. Ripley's Believe it or Not could not figure out why it happens. The locals say that it's because the lakes are so different in depth and shape that the water flowing between the lakes opens the canal back up... but scientists have not finalized this assessment.

It is one of the most photographed aspects of our community.

What do you think? e-mail your thoughts to us at visit@cadillacmichigan.com

What is the size of Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell?

Lake Cadillac is approximately 1,130 acres in size and features over 400 acres of prime fish-holding weed cover. A fertile body of water, 50% of the water is 15 feet deep or less. Lake Mitchell spans over 2,580 acres with approximately 2,000 acres dominated by lush patches of aquatic cabbage weed. Over 95% of the lake is less than 15 feet deep.

What is the Clam Lake Canal used for?

The canal was constructed in 1873 to connect Big and Little Clam Lakes (Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell). Connecting the two lakes enabled logging from the west side of Lake Mitchell possible by floating the logs through the canal into Lake Cadillac and onto town reaching the railroad. Today, the canal serves as a convenient link between Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell.

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