A Landing a Day

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Blackduck, Minnesota

Posted by graywacke on September 19, 2019

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2457; A Landing A Day blog post number 893.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N47o 41.228’, W94o 16.129’) puts me in N-Cen Minnesota:

My local landing map shows a bunch of very small towns, including my titular Blackduck:

My watershed analysis took on a life of its own. I’ll start (as usual), very locally:

You can see that I landed next to Dunbar Creek, which heads south to Dunbar Lake, and then to Round Lake.  Zooming back:

The Popple River (1st hit ever!) flows north out of Round Lake, and then discharges to the Big Fork River (4th hit).  Zooming back:

 The Big Fork discharges to the Rainy (9th hit), which forms part of the border between MN & Canada (Ontario).  Zooming back:

The Rainy discharges to the Lake of the Woods, which includes that peculiar jog north on the international border.  The Winnipeg River (also 9th hit) heads north from there, up to Lake Winnipeg.  Zooming back:  

The Nelson River (68th hit) flows north out of Lake Winnipeg and discharges to Hudson Bay.  The reason the Nelson River has so many hits is that the Red River of the North also discharges to the Lake Winnipeg & the Nelson.    What the heck, I’ll zoom back one more time:

Not much to say here, except that Hudson Bay is obviously well-connected to the North Atlantic Ocean.

As you might suspect, I had no Google Earth (GE) Street View coverage of my landing.  But I was able to get the Orange Dude to a bridge over the Popple River:


And here’s what he sees:

Staying with watersheds, I happened to notice this:

Well, I’ll be!  A few miles south of my landing, there’s the Mighty Mississippi!  (I’ll be discussing the question mark in a bit).  OK, so the MM is probably not all that mighty way up here.  I found a Google Earth (GE) Street View shot of the MM from a bridge over the stretch of the river between the two lakes:

 While getting the Orange Dude situated on the bridge, I noticed that a blue line (indicating Street View coverage) was actually located on the river:




I’ve seen this one or two times before (on the Hudson River in NYC comes to mind), when the Google Cam dude actually hauls his camera onto a boat.  Well, he hopped on a boat so we could all get a more intimate view of the river:

Since the drainage from my landing went to the North Atlantic and the MM flows to the Gulf of Mexico, it is inevitable that there is a nearby line that marks the drainage divide between the two watersheds.    Look back up at the map above that shows the MM.  You can see that Round Lake is part of the Nelson River watershed, and the Winnibigoshish Lake is part of the MM watershed.  The question mark is associated with a series of lakes.  Somewhere in that series of lakes must be the divide!

So, I went to Google Earth.  Here are the series of lakes:

And here’s a clearer view (less the big lake to the south) from StreetAtlas:

Back with GE, I used the elevation tool to look at the elevations of each of the lakes:

Hmmm.  That doesn’t tell me where the divide is – if I didn’t know better, I’d assume that the water simply flows north to south.  I dutifully began checking the waterways between the lakes, and I focused on the Lower Pigeon Lake to Pigeon Dam Lake segment:

Now we’re cooking. Let’s take a closer look at the vicinity of the 1317 mark:

In the above GE shot, I fine-tuned the location of 1317, and marked a couple of other locations.  Zooming in:

Although the photograph is a little fuzzy, it looks to me like there is a small stretch with no waterway.  That has to be the divide!  So imagine that you’re there, and nature calls (you’re a guy, of course, and no one else is around).  You face south and (counterintuitively), your pee ends up in the North Atlantic.  You face north, and it makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico. . .

What a great place to actually visit.  How would I get there?  Well, I added the “roads” feature to GE:

There’s a nearby road with a bridge over the waterway!  It’s easier to see on StreetAtlas:

I’d pay money (if I had to) to go to that spot!  And, if I had to take a whiz . . .

Let’s put this divide in a larger context:

Very cool map.  But now pay particular attention to the spot in northern PA where three watersheds converge.  I realize that it looks like southern NY on the map, but trust me, it’s northern PA.  And why should you trust me?

Because I’ve been there!  My wife Jody, my son Jordan and I were within 10 miles of the spot, visiting the home of some friends (a mom and dad and a daughter).  I had long been aware of the existence of the “triple point,” and knew we were fairly close.  I asked Dave the dad about it.  He’s a nerdy know-it-all kind of guy (and he really does know a lot).  Not only did he know about it, but he had been there!  I started jumping up and down yelling excitedly “Can we go there??  Can we go there??”  Oh, all right, maybe I didn’t jump up and down.  But anyway, as you might expect, off we went.

The location was a hill top (of course), a cow pasture surrounded by a barbed wire fence.  Dave knew of the landowner, and said he was a curmudgeon.  We parked where we couldn’t see his house, checked the field for cows, carefully went through the fence, and up went.

At my insistence, we took water bottles, so we take could off the lids, spin around in a circle from the top of the hill, and have the water end up in three disparate watersheds:  1)  the Allegheny to the Ohio to the Mississippi; 2) the Genesee to Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence; and 3) the Susquehanna to the Chesapeake Bay.

We had a silly idea, and figured what-the-heck.  We had Jordan shape his body like an “S” and stand at the top of the Susquehanna watershed.  Of course, a picture was taken.  Nina, our friend’s daughter, formed an “A” for the Allegheny and then a “G” for the Genesee (standing at appropriate locations), all photo-documented.  The “G” was especially tough . . .

So now you can see the kind of guy I am and why I would love to go that spot in Minnesota (with a water bottle if I wasn’t alone!)

I am watershedded out. 

So what about Blackduck (pop 750)?  I’ll start with this shot from the town’s website:

Not much to say, except that it was a thriving logging town, founded around the turn of the last century.  It was named after nearby Blackduck River and Blackduck Lake, which were named after a common  duck species common throughout the state… 

LakesnWoods.com has quite the robust history section about Blackduck, although there’s not much of outstanding interest for my readers. 

The piece includes many quotes from the Blackduck Times and then the Blackduck American newspapers.  Here are a choice few:

May 11, 1921: “Will Set Off Big Blast in Blackduck” The largest crowd that ever visited Blackduck is expected to be here on Friday, May 27, when Governor J.A.O. Preus will demonstrate to the farmers of Blackduck and the vicinity the modern method of clearing land. The big blast will take place at Blackduck at 11:30 sharp, when an acre or more of stumps will be blasted simultaneously, Gov. Preus setting off the charge. This event has been anticipated for some time by the citizens of the village but not until today was it made a certainty.

August 31, 1921: School opens next Tuesday, and in accordance with the recommendation of the state high school inspector, the following subjects will be required for graduation:

  • Four years of English
    • Modern European History
    • Citizenship
    • American History
    • General Science
    • Mathematics

The elective courses will consist of additional history, science, mathematics, and manual training. All high school pupils will be required to take music, public speaking, and penmanship. A course in French will be introduced this year providing a sufficient number enroll for it.

January 1922: At the February term of court Beltrami County women will take their place with the men both as grand and petit jurors. Mrs. H.E. Douglas of the village has the distinction of being the first woman drawn on the grand jury.

February 1922: Ga-Be-Nah-Womce, familiarly known as John Smith, and reputed to have been the oldest person in the world, died at Cass Lake. He was 137 years old. Smith remembered events of the war of 1812. One of his boasts was that he had never fought against the white man. He claimed to have met the Schoolcraft and Cass exploration party which passed through this region about a hundred years ago, and recalled the changing of the name of Red Cedar Lake to Cass Lake in honor of one of the explorers.

May 1923: “Cranking a Ford”   The first automobile I saw was early one morning as I got off a boat in Alaska. A native was performing stunts at what seemed one end of a big oddly shaped tin can. His left hand was firmly braced against one of its black wings that sheltered a wheel, and the motion of his body indicated the he was winding or unwinding it.

He stopped at times to wipe the sweat from his eyes and dug into it again with renewed vengeance – furious and exasperated. Whatever were his hobbies, laziness was not one of them. I could tell from a distance that he was an American though his language was unprintable as well as profane.

I was about to step forward to console him – perhaps reason with him – when something he said or did must have provoked the thing he was working on. For it suddenly barked and broke into a bedlam of hideous shrieks! A racket, like a carnival of wild cats, belched from the inside, in long drawn, painful groans – uncanny, death-defying, and unearthly. And in all that noise there was not one forgiving note.

This thing, instead of being deaf and dumb and inanimate, vibrated with fury and shook its black wings as if about to fly at the helpless man for his profanity. Surely his time had come to answer for his sins. But the man, instead of being struck stark with terror at the awful spectacle of uncontrollable wrath provoked by him, actually registered “satisfaction”, calmly, jumped aboard the thing and rode proudly away. Let those who scoff at miracles crank a Ford. (Henry Funkley)

August 1923: “Gasoline Prices Drop to 20 Cents!”

And now for a couple of back-in-the-day photos from the same piece:


I’ll close with this shot of Round Lake by Adam Bauer, posted on GE:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: