Dave's Falls, a chute of water between two rock faces

Dave's Falls is located in a Marinette County Park near Amberg. It is a small but narrow falls that flows between two rock faces. The falls pumps a great volume of water through a narrow chute. Park officials have left the environment alone. There are no fences or guardrails. Visitors can roam around the rocks to get a variety of views.

September 14, 2017


Dave's Falls near Amberg in Marinette County is just 70 miles north of Green Bay off Hwy 141, a fun place to visit. It was named after Dave Frechette, a river crew boss lost to the river while trying to free a log jam in 1881. It is located in a county park about a mile south of Amberg. The falls occurs over a 10 ft. drop in the Pike River, a tributary of the Menominee River, meeting it northeast of the Village of Wausaukee. The Menominee River flows into Lake Michigan.


There's a short trail to the falls.


The trail takes you through some fabulous lush vegetation. You can hear and see parts of the falls from the trail.


Well, darn it, I came all this way and is this going to be my best view of the falls? You can see it through the trees.


I walked closer to the edge and got a slightly better view. But this is not going to do it people.


I was lucky the day I was there because I spotted a guy fishing right down there, from the rocks next to the water. Looked around a bit, and spotted this used path heading down. So I took it.

To get really good looks at the falls, however, you'll need to do just a bit of "rock walking;" that is, step up and down on small sections of rock. I'm in my 70s and was able to do it.


This was one of my first views. Clearly the objective is to get over to those rocks in the foreground to see the falls.


Understanding my laziness, It was easier to swivel just a bit to the right from my previous position and get this shot. This area is known as the lower falls.


And just a tad more swivel to the right to get this one.


And then, quite naturally, given I am a chicken, turn all the way to the right to see down stream.


Well, the time has come to put up or shut up and do some "rock stepping."

Much better. Those are the upper falls. But this still is not going to do it. Clearly I have to get on top of those rocks in front of me. It did not look that hard to do as there are smaller rocks on which you can kind of step up. My only concern was my camera, my expensive camera. Slipping is one thing. But slipping and crashing my camera quite another. So I strapped her around me and up I went. I know I'm making this sound like climbing Mount Everest, but heh, I was having fun.


I'm getting closer. I've got the side of the water flowing through the chute. Not yet good enough.


This is as close as I got. Had I been younger and more nimble, I could have gotten closer. I decided this was good enough. Beautiful! The real trick is to get to the other side, where it's fairly flat.

On my way out, I saw some great scenery heavy with moss. My wife loves moss so I took a few shots. They follow:




The Pike River emerges just a bit to the northwest of Amberg after being fed by two Pike River Branches, the North and South. It is about 15 miles long, first flowing east, then south and then east again until it feeds into the Menominee River. The Menominee River is in both Northeastern Wisconsin and northwestern Michigan. It rises near Michigamme Lake after being fed by the Brule River and Michigamme Rivers, both of which are tributaries of the Menominee River. It is about 116 miles long and drains a massive rural forested area. It then empties into Lake Michigan at Marinette City.

I have a bit of method to the madness of talking about all these rivers. First, one must differentiate between the
Bois Brule River which originates in Douglas County to the west and empties into Lake Superior, and this Brule River which originates in Brule Lake just inside Michigan and forms the boundary between Wisconsin and Michigan for nearly its entire length. All of this is in northeastern Wisconsin.

Second, I have found a little history about logging and the Menominee River which I am sure applies to the Pike River as well.


This photo by Dr. John Newkirk shows a massive log jam on the Menominee River in 1899. The ice on the river had to be blasted to break the jam. Well over 100 years ago, the Boom Company would use the Pike River to float the logged pines to the Menominee River and then on to the saw mills of the city of Marinette. I do not know whether it was the Menominee Boom Co. but in an article entitled, "Menominee Range Memories: Early Logging on the Menominee and Sturgeon Rivers", William Cummings, the Menominee Range Historical Foundation Historian, wrote, the aforementioned Boom company handled some 111,056,020 feet of logs in 1875 alone.

Dave Frechette was a lumberjack who tried to clear a log jam at what was then named Pem-a-wan Falls in 1881. Floating logs down the Pike River would take them through some falls that were life threatening. In her book,
Ever Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting, Amy Lou Jenkins wrote:

"Lumberjacks who walked out to dislodge the mass risked being tossed into the violent waters and crushed between moaning timbers … Old timers used to tell stories about Dave (Frechette's) bravery and about his confident swagger across many jams before those last logs crashed him and rolled him under."

I'll note that once the logging companies cleared the land which was rich in pines, they began taking actions to deal with the farmers who owned that land. The logging companies got the farmers to grow crops and ship them up to the logging camps so the loggers had some good, fresh food. I know one 40 acre farm on the Pike River was cleared in 1875 and began growing crops for the loggers.