Rugg Pond is a reservoir in Rapid River Township in Kalkaska County. It has a long and interesting history including reports that Ernest Hemingway once spent a night fishing from the Rug Pond dam powerhouse. He supposedly wrote The Battle while fishing.
It was formed by a dam that was originally intended to generate power for surrounding communities. The dam and power plant were built where the two branches of the Rapid River meet northwest of Kalkaska.
Kalkaska Light and Power Company
Ambrose E. Palmer founded the Kalkaska Light and Power Company 1904. The company was turned over to Kalkaska County for $1 in 1953. In 1980 the Arm Corps of Engineers condemned the dam.
The pond was named after the family of Rolando F. Rugg, a popular sheriff of Kalkaska County from 1892-1896. The Rugg’s came from Pennsylvania and built the first farm at Rugg Pond.
Concerned citizens formed Save Rugg Pond Natural Area to preserver and continue access to the historic site. The site is a popular spot for fishing and hiking. There is a boat launch that is used for both carry-down and trailered boats. The trail network extends almost around the entire perimeter of the pond. The trails are not maintained and are mostly used for fishing. The most popular species caught here is the Brown Trout.
The Fate of the Dam
The fate of the dam is up in the air whether to keep the dam and tear it out. The dam is in need of repairs and the pond is filling with sediment. Kalkaska County has to decide if they can afford to repair and maintain the dam or if they will need to take it out completely.
It will be a shame if they have to tear it out. Not only is it an historical site but according to friends in the area it is still an active recreational area for hiking and fishing. Removing the dam may change that.
Rugg Pond Dam
Industry and Invention (1875-1915) – Registered in 1984 and erected in 1990 – ID #L1158A
Located at Rugg Pond Natural Area, on Valley Rd, North of Hanson Highway, Rapid River Township – Lat: 44.78217000 / Long: -85.20039000
In 1904 Ambrose E. Palmer founded the Kalkaska Light and Power Company and built a dam and power plant at Rugg Pond, where the two branches of the Rapid River meet. Palmer reportedly commissioned farmers to bring wagonloads of stone to the pond to construct the foundation of the dam. This plant supplied electricity to the village of Kalkaska and surrounding areas. The pond was named for R. F. Rugg, a prominent local businessman. According to legend, Ernest Hemingway spent a night fishing from the Rugg Pond Dam powerhouse.
In 1950 Consumers Power Company purchased the former Kalkaska Light and Power Company hydroelectric plant, located at Rugg Pond Dam. Consumers Power sold the dam to Kalkaska County for one dollar in 1953. In 1980 the Army Corp of Engineers condemned the dam. Two years later concerned citizens formed Save Rugg Pond Natural Area to restore the dam and preserve the area. Local contributions, grants, and monies from the Kammer Land and Trust Fund have been used to maintain this scenic area.