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Across Minnesota to North Dakota and on to Montana

Grand Forks, North Dakota on the Red River of the North
Upon leaving Ely, we headed for Grand Forks, North Dakota. You may recall the Red River of the North flooded horribly in 1996 and again in 1997. (The Red River (in the south) is the border between Oklahoma and Texas.) Well, they've done a terrific job recovering. Their results demonstrate what can be done with what appears to be good civic leadership. Nearly everything in the immediate floodplain was demolished. A greenbelt was then built with 42 miles of cycling and walking paths, sports fields, and campgrounds, but no permanent structures. Additionally, architecturally attractive dikes were built along the river in the city with gates for auto, pedestrian, and rail traffic. That's all to save the remaining lovely city which has a lot interesting late 19th century architecture, again with Chicago School influences. The city's history of floods is depicted on the memorial in the greenbelt.

(One of the natural issues with the river is that it flows north, so increased flows from spring runoffs are blocked by ice farther north, thus exacerbating the floods.)

Grand Forks' economic base is agriculture: farming and food processing. The major crop is sugar beets, a surprise to us. Potatoes, particularly red potatoes, are grown in the Red River Valley, along with the usual Northern Great Plains crops of corn, soybeans, winter and spring wheat, and hay. Grand Forks is also home to the University of North Dakota, which adds a lot to the city's opportunities.

As we toured the pleasant little city, we came across a lovely Elm tree arch gracing one of the residential streets. It reminded me of my childhood when Elm arches were everywhere. All in all Grand Forks was a real pleasant surprise.

From Grand Forks, we went to Fargo, then on across North Dakota. As the elevation increased from 600 to 3,000 feet, along the backroads paralleling I-94, the interesting geology made us feel as if we were rising out of an ancient seabed. We were also surprised with the many little lakes and rivers that dotted the landscape. Some landscape was the usual agricultural fields, which I enjoy, but they were interrupted with various rock outcrops left from billions of years of geologic activity.

We stopped briefly in Bismark, the capital of North Dakota, but continued to Glendive, just across the Montana border.

Observation: Cyclists generally ride on the sidewalks in Grand Forks, Fargo, and Bismark, North Dakota. It seems to be the law as many crossings have stop signs to prevent cyclists from riding into a turning driver's blind spot.

Bumper stickers in Grand Forks:
- Change - I want mine back
- Free trade is a contradiction ... where sugar, a protected industry, is the major crop
- My son is in the Army - he is fighting to protect your honor student ... on a Yukon
ms 2010-07-15


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