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Why are some North Shore rivers the color of root beer?

If you have explored rivers and lakes along the North Shore you’ve probably noticed that the water is the color of root beer. Why? Well, most people think it’s caused by flood water containing large amounts of silt. However, the actual reason is that North Shore rivers, especially when the water is low, carry tannins from swamps and decaying vegetation that keep its color an amber-brown.


One example of this weird phenomenon can be seen in Cascade River State Park. Many spectators have grown to believe the brown water is a result of how fast the water rushes, bringing mud from the bottom of the river with it. With how fast the water rushes down the Cascades, it’s hard to believe that it’s really just sediment being carried along!


Many other bodies of water around the world are also root beer colored. For example, our very own Lake Superior sometimes seems reddish-brown. This results from strong winds or rains that launch red clay particles and other sediments into the water. These sediments don’t cause any harm, although we imagine it does give spectators an uneasy feeling as they’re used to that cool-blue water that the lake is known for.



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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 at 2:50 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.