Boyden Creek was named after Luther Boyden who came to Michigan from Massachusetts in 1826. He and Thomas Alexander drew straws to determine the location of their property in what is now Webster Township, just north of Joy Road. Boyden won, and he chose a level area full of oak and hickory forests. Over time, most of the creekshed was converted to fields and became known as Boyden’s Plains.
Today, while the majority of the creekshed is still agriculture, the most visible feature in the Boyden creekshed is the suburban neighborhood of Loch Alpine. This neighborhood had a start and stop development history starting in the 1920’s and 1930’s when the original developer built roads, bridges, and a golf course, but died before houses were put in. After this, sewer and water problems delayed construction and land ownership changed hands several times. The first residents did not move in until 1956, when the present sewage treatment plant was brought online.
In the 1920s, the developer of Loch Alpine put two dams in Boyden Creek to create Bridgeway and Greenook lakes. In 1968, severe flooding washed out the Bridgeway dam and caused extensive flooding damage. Fine silt covered the creek and the Huron river downstream, damaging habitat and the aquatic community. The dam was rebuilt, and in 1981 it was modified with an auxiliary overflow spillway.
In 2000 the 450 households in Loch Alpine paid a special assessment of about $895,000 to dredge both lakes to deepen them and slow plant growth. In 2002 while Greenook Lake was drained to remove sediment, the spillway gate was left open during a major rain event. Sediment was released into Boyden Creek and the Huron River, which Loch Alpine subsequently removed at the directive of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). After several years of engineering studies and planning, Loch Alpine invested in modifying the Greenook dam with an auxiliary overflow spillway and installed armoring in the Bridgeway dam overflow spillway.
Boyden Creek has a small watershed, draining 7.4 square miles via 7.5 miles of creeks and streams The creek’s slope (averaging 18.6 feet per mile) makes Boyden Creek one of the steeper creeks in the Huron watershed. There are 2 lakes (open water > 5 acres) and 8 ponds (open water < 5 acres) in the Boyden creekshed. The townships of Scio, Webster, Northfield, and Ann Arbor, and Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioners all make decisions that affect the creek.