Day 39 — Devils Lake to East Grand Forks
July 21, 2021. Another predawn start for the 95 mile push to East Grand Forks, on the Minnesota-side of the Red River from Grand Forks, ND.
It was basically another day of fighting the strange southeast winds, but at least today they came a bit more from the south, allowing me to keep up a decent pace.
I rolled into East Grand Forks around 1 and went straight to a campground right in the heart of the two towns, right on the River. It’s called the Red River State Recreation Area, but historically it was the Sherlock Neighborhood of East Grand Forks. Here’s the story:
Ten thousand years ago, Glacial Lake Agassiz was at its largest size and covered 135,000 square miles of eastern North Dakota, northwestern Minnesota and southern Manitoba. Sediment from the lake created an incredibly flat piece of land, the Red River Valley, that stretches 17,000 square miles. The unchanging flat topography of the Red River Valley is a major factor in the river’s propensity to flood. Significant floods of the recent past include the floods of 1897, 1950, 1979 and 1997. The 1997 flood inundated 99 percent of the homes in East Grand Forks. Damage estimates for the Grand Forks and East Grand Forks area ranged from $1 billion to $1.5 billion.
Following the flood, volunteers, local groups, state and federal agencies poured into the area to provide flood relief. Their efforts focused on flood recovery and a re-evaluation of the existing flood protection system. Through state and federal dollars, approximately 500 properties within the floodway were acquired and removed. This left space between the flood levees and the Red and Red Lake rivers for a 1,200-acre recreational greenway. Various structures and homes were removed and the land — now a 1,200-acre greenway — became a state recreation area including an urban campground that features 113 campsites, and miles of trails for walking and biking.
You can see from the photo that the old Sherlock neighborhood, which once had hundreds of homes, has been converted to the campground. It’s a super creative use of the space, using the infrastructure that was already in place.
By 2 pm I was settled into my campsite, giving me lots of time to explore the two towns and the greenway system by bike (yes, more time on the bike). I highly recommend Rhombus Guys for pizza if you are ever in the area. Then it was to bed by 7 pm for an early start. It rained hard during the night, which made me hopeful for cool temperatures tomorrow.