What the heck’s a “flowage,” and why is it called that??

Minong Flowage

All over northern Wisconsin, the term flowage has worked its way into dozens of lake names. Here in northwestern Wisconsin, we have the Minong Flowage, Gordon Flowage, Chippewa Flowage, and Tigercat Flowage—and that’s just for starters. And despite the number of flowages in northern Wisconsin, people who live on any one of them can often be heard calling their home lake simply “The Flowage.”

So what exactly is a flowage, and how did they come to be called that?

A flowage is simply a lake that’s formed upstream of a dam; it’s a regionalism that’s rarely heard outside of Wisconsin. In other parts of the country, especially in the South and the West, a flowage might be called a reservoir. A flowage, like a reservoir, can be any shape and size. Some, like the Minong Flowage and Gordon Flowage, were formed when dams flooded large, sprawling areas. Others, like the Colton Flowage in Washburn County, are smaller and have a simpler shoreline that resulted from the flooding of a long, narrow valley.

Nor is the term’s use universal; even around here, plenty of lakes upstream of dams are simply called “lakes.” Examples include Trego Lake, Hayward Lake, Nelson Lake, Moose Lake, and Lake Namekagon. And then there’s the Eau Claire Chain of Lakes that includes Lower Eau Claire Lake, Middle Eau Claire Lake, and Upper Eau Claire Lake. Each lies above a small dam. Although smaller lakes might have been there from the beginning, it’s the dams that give these lakes their present size and shape.

But why “flowage,” especially when it describes the one part of a river that’s no longer flowing? Webster’s defines flowage as a) an overflowing onto adjacent land, b) a body of water formed by overflowing or damming, c) floodwater especially of a stream. That first definition is key; it’s related to a whole body of real estate law surrounding the concept of “flowage easements,” which grant someone the right to flood land.

Flowage easements are most often granted to the state and federal government, but in the past they were often granted to utilities that built dams for generating electricity. Here in northern Wisconsin, flowage easements were also granted to logging companies so they could build dams for regulating water flow during the spring logging drives. They built dams, the water upstream of the dams rose, and then the water flowed onto the adjacent land. And that’s how we got the term “flowage.”

To learn more about any of the lakes and flowages mentioned in this post, go to the menu above and click on NW WI Lakes & Rivers. And for all your northwest Wisconsin real estate needs, whether you’re buying or selling, call Jean Hedren at (218) 590-6634. www.JeanHedren.com

Gordon Dam
Gordon Dam

SOLD 3 BR Log Home with view of St Croix Flowage. 7645 E Cty Rd Y, Wascott WI.

3 BR Log Home, 10 acres, view of St Croix Flowage. 7645 E Cty Rd Y, Wascott WI.

SOLD.


3 bedroom log home on 10 acres with incredible views of Gordon/St Croix Flowage. This home is perched high on a ridge overlooking the Flowage. This home is perfect as your year round home or a weekend getaway.

The property extends down the hillside and abuts county land that has been granted “special use” protection. Includes roughly 6 acres on the south side of Cty Rd Y. There, you’ll find great hunting land with stands, clearings, and trails.

Just a mile from the Gordon/St Croix Flowage boat landing and great fishing for Northern, Bass, and Panfish.

More details here: 7645 E Cty Rd Y, Gordon, WI

Gordon/St Croix Flowage area wildlife – Douglas County WI

Most of the Gordon/St Croix Flowage is relatively wild and undeveloped; if you’re stealthy enough, you’ll see abundant birds and wildlife.

Birds
Several pairs of loons, eagles, and ospreys nest here; please enjoy them from a distance. You may also see trumpeter swans, blue herons, sandhill cranes, terns, kingfishers, sandpipers and other shorebirds, and even the occasional pelican. If you’re a birder, we’re definitely worth a visit.

Mammals
In the flowage, you may spot beavers, otters, and muskrats. Along the shoreline, watch for deer, bear, fisher, fox, mink, and weasels—and, of course, lots of exotic squirrels and chipmunks. (Actually, you may see some squirrels that are a little unusual. In this corner of Wisconsin, we have a small variant population of gray squirrels with black fur.)
We also have a few coyotes and wolves in the area; if you’re very lucky, you may spot one watching from the shoreline at dawn or dusk.

Reptiles???
You’ll find very few snakes this far north; none of them are poisonous. The Flowage is, however, home to lots of frogs and turtles. In the spring, our frogs are very musical.

Just sold: well-maintained 2 BR mfg home on St Croix Flowage. 9335 E Cty Rd Y, Gordon, WI.

Sold: Well-maintained and affordable 2 BR mfg home on St Croix Flowage. 9335 E Cty Rd Y, Gordon, WI.

Details: 9335 E Cty Rd Y, Gordon, WI


Property Highlights: 

  • Well-cared for 2 BR manufactured home
  • 120’ frontage on St Croix River with boating access to 1913-acre St Croix Flowage
  • Attractive home interior and landscaped yard
  • Newer 2-car garage – insulated, finished, attic storage
  • LP gas, forced air furnace
  • Riverside patio
  • St Croix Flowage is a popular year round fishing destination for northern, bass, and panfish
  • Popular duck hunting destination
  • Located in Gordon Wisconsin fishing, hunting, ATV, snowmobile country.
  • Easy access to Hwy 53; 40-minutes to Superior/Duluth and 2.5 hours to Minneapolis/St Paul.

Download your free NW Wisconsin property search app for iPhone, iPad, and Android at www.JeanHedren.com

The Gordon/St Croix Flowage – Largest lake in Douglas County WI offers great fishing and boating!

One of the best-kept secrets in northwestern Wisconsin is the Gordon/St Croix Flowage.

This lake is large and can handle a fair number of boaters and fishing enthusiasts with plenty of room and lots of enjoyment for everyone. Even at the busiest time of year, this lake never feels crowded. I’m lucky to live on this wonderful lake.

With its 29 miles of meandering shoreline, this 1900-acre flowage is one of the most pristine, quiet lakes remaining in Northwestern Wisconsin. Most of its shoreline is public land that’s unlikely to ever be developed—partly because it’s protected, and partly because it’s low-lying ground that wouldn’t be suitable for development anyway.
Although much of the lake is quite shallow, water quality is good—and so’s the fishing. Abundant structure and aquatic vegetation make the Flowage problematic for water-skiers, but a paradise for anglers, pontooners, and paddlers.

Because the Flowage is relatively undisturbed, you’ll see abundant wildlife. Several pairs of loons, eagles, and ospreys nest here. Please enjoy them from a distance.

What’s in a name?
Our flowage is sometimes called the Gordon Flowage, and sometimes the Saint Croix Flowage—not to be confused with Upper Saint Croix Lake, which is upstream a few miles at Solon Springs. For clarity, it’s sometimes referred to as the Gordon-Saint Croix Flowage. Most days, we just call it “The Flowage.”

What the heck’s a flowage?
If you’re not from the area, this term may be a little mysterious. It’s used to describe the lake formed upstream from a dam. Our flowage was formed by the Gordon Dam. Even before the dam was built, however, a slightly smaller lake formed here naturally.

Welcome to the lake. Enjoy your stay.

Upstream From a National Park – St Croix National Scenic Riverway

“But I thought no one could build a house on the Upper St Croix River!  Isn’t that some kind of Wild and Scenic Riverway?”

Indeed it is.  But for whatever reason, the Wild and Scenic part of the St Croix River officially begins at the Gordon Dam; that’s four or five miles downstream from where I’m sitting right now.  Unofficially, however, my own front yard is pretty wild and scenic.

Yours could be, too.  The Gordon-St Croix Flowage is one of the best-kept secrets in northwestern Wisconsin.  With its 27 miles of meandering shoreline, this 1900-acre flowage is one of the most pristine, quiet lakes remaining in the entire region.  Most of its shoreline is public land that’s unlikely to ever be developed.

Prefer eagles and loons to jet skis and water skis?  This is the lake for you.

Every year, a very limited number of cabins, homes, or buildable lots becomes available on or near the Flowage (and occassionally even on the stretch of river just upstream from Gordon).

Looking for something just as scenic, but perhaps a little less wild?  Check out 855-acre Upper Saint Croix Lake.  The headwaters of the St Croix River, it contains abundant walleye, northern pike, bass, and panfish—plus the occasional brook trout, brown trout, or musky.  The village of Solon Springs lies along its western shore; this lake is a bit more developed.  It’s deeper, and better for boating and water skiing.

Even this lake, however, has quiet corners where you’ll still find privacy and tranquility.

Search for homes or cabins for sale on the St Croix Flowage, St Croix River, or Upper St Croix Lake

Is Upper St Croix Lake, Solon Springs, Wisconsin, right for you?

At 855 acres, Upper St Croix Lake is one of the Douglas County’s, Northwest Wisconsin, larger lakes.  The headwaters of the St Croix River, it contains abundant walleye, northern pike, bass, and panfish—plus the occasional brook trout, brown trout, or musky.

The village of Solon Springs is located along the lake’s west side; there are also a number of cabins and nice lake homes along the lake’s east side.  This lake has a more “urban” feel than some other lakes, and you’ll see lots of activities on weekends.  Most weekdays, however, it’s fairly quiet.

Down the lake and down the river, you’ll find great fishing and paddling in the stretch between Solon Springs and Gordon.  Next, you’ll enter the 1900-acre St Croix Flowage (also known locally as the Gordon Flowage).  A local favorite for fishing, waterfowling, paddling, and pontooning, it can also be accessed from multiple boat landings.  Downstream from the Gordon Dam, you’ll enter the St Croix National Wild and Scenic Riverway; if you like, you can follow it all the way to the Mississippi.  Leave from home, and you’ll have begun at the beginning.

From your home on Upper St Croix Lake you’ll be close to shopping in Solon Springs, and within easy commuting distance of Superior, Duluth, Spooner, or Hayward.

The fish story of Gordon St Croix Flowage – Gordon, Wisconsin

The Gordon-St Croix Flowage is a popular, year-round destination for anglers.

Here’s the fish story:

Mainly Panfish, Northerns, and Bass
You’re most likely to catch sunfish, crappies, northern pike, and largemouth bass. The Flowage also contains smaller numbers of muskies, smallmouth bass, bullheads, carp, and dogfish.

Stocking History
From 1937 to 1963, the Flowage was stocked regularly with a variety of species—everything from catfish to walleyes. No stocking occurred from 1963 to 2000. Since then, the Flowage has been stocked roughly every other year with both sturgeon and muskies. Despite these various stocking efforts, the Flowage has proven most suited for panfish, northern pike, and largemouth bass.

Preserve the Resource
On days when the fishing is almost too good, please use restraint. Here on the Flowage, the DNR especially encourages voluntary catch-and-release of bluegills and crappies. And, while you may encounter some large largemouths in the Flowage, at this latitude they take many years to reach that size. Please preserve the resource.

Preserve Your Lower Unit
Here on the Flowage, you’ll encounter a few stumps, plus plenty of shallow, rocky reefs. That sort of structure makes for great fishing. It can, however, be rough on boat motors.
In the interest of boating safety, our lake association has marked many of these hazards—but not all. If you’re unfamiliar with the Flowage, you may want to keep your speed down, carry a few extra shear pins, and keep an eye out for obstacles.

Minong Flowage – NW Wisconsin’s most popular fishing and recreation lakes

The Minong Flowage, Minong Wisconsin, is a 1,564-acre impoundment of the Totagatic River created by a dam completed in 1937.  Most of its bottom is sand; its maximum and mean depths are 21’ and 9’.  Although much of the Flowage is deep, open water, some of its shallow bays contain tree stumps and aquatic vegetation.  The fishery consists mainly of walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie, and yellow perch.  The Flowage is also popular for boating, waterskiing, and paddling.

Some parts of the Minong Flowage see a fair amount of boat traffic.  Other areas are much quieter; on a typical day, you might only see a few fishing boats go by.  Although a fair number of homes have been built on the Flowage, it still has an up-north feel.  You’ll often see loons, eagles, and other wildlife.

On the other hand, you can also go for a boat ride, dock at restaurant, and then after dinner motor home as the moon rises over the Minong Flowage.  Here, you really can have the best of both worlds.

$86,900 – 2 BR Home on 1900-Acre Gordon-St Croix Flowage, Gordon, WI. A bargain on this great fishing lake.

Newer 2 BR Home on 1900-Acre Gordon-St Croix Flowage
Newer manufactured home in excellent condition. 120’ of frontage, convenient access. Less than a mile from U.S. 53; only 2.5 hours from the Twin Cities.
A rare opportunity for waterfront access at a bargain price. Located on the largest lake in Douglas Co, a prime NW Wisconsin destination fishing lake.


This charming 2BR manufactured home is nestled on a bend in the St Croix River, just above where it enters the Gordon-Saint Croix Flowage. Catch northern, bass, and bluegills right from the end of your dock. Watch eagles soar; fall asleep to the song of the loons. This part of the Flowage is also home to one of the area’s few tern colonies.
In winter, this stretch of open water attracts numerous trumpeter swans. Although these birds are quite rare, you’ll often see them close-up, right outside your picture window.
Or, for even more fishing, birding, and sightseeing, push off from your dock and explore the 1900-acre flowage with its 29 miles of meandering shoreline. It’s a paradise for anglers, waterfowlers, and paddlers. The channel leading from your home to the Flowage is easily navigable by pontoon, fishing boat, or paddle craft.
If you’re ambitious, you can also paddle a canoe or kayak upstream all the way to Solon Springs. (If you’re really ambitious, you could then portage overland to the headwaters of the Brule and descend to Lake Superior and points beyond.)

More about the Gordon-Saint Croix Flowage:
The Gordon-Saint Croix Flowage is one of the best-kept secrets in northwestern Wisconsin. With its 29 miles of meandering shoreline, this 1900-acre flowage is one of the most pristine, quiet lakes remaining in the entire region. Most of its shoreline is public land that’s unlikely to ever be developed.
The Flowage is a popular, year-round destination for anglers. You’re most likely to catch sunfish, crappies, northern pike, and largemouth bass. The Flowage also contains smaller numbers of muskies and smallmouth bass.
Most of the Flowage is relatively wild and undeveloped; if you’re stealthy enough, you’ll see abundant birds and wildlife. Most summers, multiple pairs of eagles and loons nest within a mile of this home.
Just minutes away, you’ll find dozens more rivers and lakes. Close to trails and abundant public land. Only two miles from US 53; 40 minutes from Superior or Spooner.
Prefer eagles and loons to PWCs and water skis? This is the lake for you.
To learn more about the Flowage, visit the official website of the Gordon-Saint Croix Flowage Association at www.gordonstcroixflowage.com.