A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Rocherath’

Detroit Lakes and Rochert, Minnesota (and Rocherath, Belgium)

Posted by graywacke on January 23, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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 recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2321; A Landing A Day blog post number 752.

text-boxDan:  Today’s lat/long (47o 0.464’N, 95o 31.618’W), while not as far north as my last Washington Canadian Border landing, is still pretty far up there in Minnesota:


Here’s my local landing map:


You can see one of my titular towns (Detroit Lakes) and a whole passel of non-titular towns (and Rochert is nowhere to be found).  And maybe, just maybe, I’ll have very close-in Street View coverage of my landing (since it looks like I landed right on a road).  Stay tuned!

Here’s my local streams-only map:


You can see that I landed within shouting distance of Ice Cracking Lake, so a drop of water that falls on my landing can quickly take a swim in the lake.  The lake is drained by an unnamed stream (at least to me, if not the locals) which flows into and then out of Ice Cracking Lake, then on to the Otter Tail River (3rd hit).

While Otter Tail sounds like a quaint little name for a quaint little stream, it’s actually a fair-sized river with a fair sized watershed.  Zooming back a little:


You can see that the Otter Tail wends its way through Chippewa Lake and Height of Land Lake.  Height of Land!  What an awesome name!  Very much reminds of its sister lake, Sleight of Hand Lake.

As I typed Sleight of Hand, I was suddenly unsure of the word “sleight.”  Here’s the definition:

The use of dexterity or cunning, especially so as to deceive.  “except by sleight of logic, the two positions cannot be harmonized.”

Continuing my streams-only zoom-out:


You can see that the Otter Tail makes its way through numerous lakes (including the Mother Ship, Otter Tail Lake) before discharging into the Red River of the North (48th hit).

You’ll have to take my word on the following:  The Red River of the North heads into Canada where it discharges into the huge Lake Winnipeg (9,500 square miles!).  The Nelson River (66th hit) flows out of the lake, making its way northeast before discharging (with polar bears watching) into Hudson Bay.

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight into Cen-NW Minnesota, but this time with a difference.  I was speaking with my son Jordan, and he said he doesn’t bother watching my GE spaceflight videos, because they take too much time! 

Well, ex-cuuuuuse me!  But ever the sensitive father (and sensitive blogger), recognizing that because it is likely that others feel the same, I have simplified/shortened my spaceflight.  Click HERE to check it out, and then hit your back button.

So what about Street View coverage?  Well, this says it all:


Yes, the Orange Dude is virtually face-to-face (or I should say face-to-pushpin) with my landing!  And here’s what he sees:


I moved him a little further south, and had him look up the road:


I hope the Orange Dude waved hello to the kids in the bus.

As mentioned earlier, I landed adjacent to Ice Cracking Lake.  It turns out that I also landed adjacent to the Ice Cracking Resort.  Here ’tis:


And a screen shot of the resort’s home page:


 We have a nearby Street View look at the Otter Tail River:


And here’s what the OD sees (looking downstream):


And here’s the “upstream” version, which is actually Round Lake:


It’s time to move along to all things titular.

Even though Detroit Lakes is a pretty big town (pop 8,600 which expands to 13,000 during the summer tourist season), it is very much:


OK, so Wiki says that Detroit Lakes was mentioned in John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley, which caught my attention only because I featured this very book when discussing Alice ND in a March 2016 post.  Alice is featured by Steinbeck while recounting a night spent camping nearby and hobnobbing with an itinerant actor.  It turns out that the entire Alice episode in the book was likely fiction. 

No such intrigue for Detroit Lakes (which happened just a day before Alice).

And then, Wiki says this:

A postcard depicting the Fairyland Cottages in Detroit Lakes appear in the opening credits of the 1983 movie National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Here’s a clip of the opening credits.  Look for some white cottages with red trim, and yes, those are the Fairyland Cottages in Detroit Lakes!


Just in case you missed it (or didn’t bother with the clip), here’s a screen shot:


The resort went of business, and it was purposely burned down as part of a Detroit Lakes Fire Department training exercise . . .

I told you Detroit Lakes was hookless!

Time to move on to Rochert.  That’s the titular town not on my local landing map.  Fortunately for me, GE often shows smaller towns than Street Atlas.  Here ‘tis (about 12 miles from my landing):


And I can’t really blame Street Atlas for not bothering:


In spite of its practically nonexistent status, Wiki has this to say:

The settlement was founded by Palm Peter and by Heuters Nikolaus from Rocherath, Belgium.

Given the similarity between Rochert and Rocherath, I can only presume that the MN version was named after the Belgian version.

Quickly realizing I would find nothing to say about Rochert MN, I thought I’d check out Rocherath, Belgium.  Rocherath is a teeny teeny town in the far east, right near the German border.  Here’s a GE shot:


Zooming closer in, you can see that there’s a twin village, Krinkelt:


So, when one Googles Rocherath, there are many entries about World War II, more specifically the Battle of the Bulge, and more specifically, the Battle of Elsenborn Ridge.

From History.com (about the Battle of the Bulge):

In December 1944, Adolph Hitler attempted to split the Allied armies in northwest Europe by means of a surprise blitzkrieg thrust through the Ardennes (a forest region on the border between Germany and Belgium), and on to Antwerp.

The Allies had been on the march since the Normandy Invasion (June 6, 1944), and the Nazi December offensive was a last-ditch effort to turn the tide of the ward.

Here’s a map:


Caught off-guard, American units fought desperate battles to stem the German advance.  However, advance they did, and the Allied line took on the appearance of a large bulge, giving rise to the battle’s name.

Here’s a Wiki map:


The solid purple line (which roughly corresponds to the German border) was the front line on the 16th of December.  The dashed line is the front as of the 20th of December and the dotted line is the line as of Christmas day.  The Germans would get no further.

 Compare the battle map with the planned invasion map.  Notice how there was no advance to the northwest in the vicinity of Rocherath?  More about that in a minute.

From Wiki (the Battle of Elsenborn Ridge):

Monschau [see map above] lay on the very northernmost sector of the German offensive. Capturing it and the twin villages of Krinkelt-Rocherath were critical to the success of the German offensive because of the road network that lay to their west. The Germans had planned a seven-day campaign to seize Antwerp, and they were counting on the good quality road system to the west of Monschau and Elsenborn Ridge [located about 4 miles northwest of Rocherath] to help them achieve that objective.

So, I spent a fair amount of time perusing the internet, learning about the Battle of Elsenborn Ridge.  It’s very intense reading, and there are copious entries providing much detail about troop movements, practically hour-by-hour.  I’ll start with this GE shot showing the village of Elsenborn (where the north-south trending ridge is located):


Here’s the ALAD synopsis:

The Germans expected to take Rocherath/Krinkelt rapidly, knowing that an untested rookie unit (the 99th Infantry Division, none of whom had yet fired their weapons at the enemy) was thinly defending the front line, and that the German attack would be unexpected.  But the Americans (soon aided by the 2nd Infantry Division), put up magnificent resistance, with intense house-to-house combat.  For three days, the Americans kept the Germans from advancing.

These three days were absolutely critical, as they allowed the Americans to bring in reinforcements to defend the strategically-crucial Elsenborn Ridge, about 4 miles NW of Rocherath.

Look back up at the battle map.  See the north-south portion of the dashed purple line west of Rocherath?  That’s Elsenborn Ridge, where the Germans were stopped.  Remember that the German’s original objective was to go past Elsenborn and keep going northwest all the way to Antwerp. 

Even though the Germans broke through further south (and headed due west, not northwest), their entire offensive was essentially doomed by Elsenborn; and Elsenborn was successful only because of the three days in Rocherath/Krinkelt.

It’s incredibly moving to peruse the internet.  Photographs of war scenes (with many dead soldiers); articles about the Malmedy massacre (where the Germans executed 84 American prisoners of war, 15 miles WSW of Rocherath); and stories of individual heroism, abound.

Here’s a Wiki photo (by Wikoli) of plaques on the twin-village square, right on the border between Roherath & Kinkelt:


I took the Orange Dude into downtown Rocherath/Krinkelt.  Here are three shots from the same location, right on the boundary between Rocherath & Krinkelt.  The first one is looking northwest:


And yes, Stella Artois is a Belgian beer.

I then had the OD look a bit to his right:


And then, further to the right:


It’s time for some Pano shots (all within 7 or 8 miles from my landing). I’ll start with this, by Lynn Hendricks, of the Otter Tail River in Rochert:


And here’s a lovely shot by Wayne Rasmussen:


I’ll close with another by Ms. Hendricks:


That’ll do it . . .




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