Glaciation

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Winning Nomination

Down a well of time only twice as deep as the pyramids of Egypt, a continental glacier was receding from Minnesota. It left a blasted landscape of bedrock, boulders, gravel, sand, silt, and water. A land made by ice. Plants, animals, and eventually Lutherans colonized and scratched at the surface of the land, but the power of the glaciers still dominates our physical environment and profoundly shapes our work lives and our recreation.

Glacial Lake Agassiz left a fertile lake bottom in the Red River Valley and a large overflow valley that now contains the meandering Minnesota River. Another great glacial meltwater stream carved the beautiful St. Croix River Valley to the east.

The scoured bedrock of northern Minnesota became the stunning lakes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Further south and west the random plowing of soil by moving ice and the deposition of sand and gravel around remaining chunks of ice created our recreational lakes for weekend trips and prairie potholes that facilitate continent-wide migrations.

This glacially produced hydrological chaos of lakes, ponds, and marshes provide us with our greatest common enemy, the mosquito.

I'm writing this note looking out over Lake Superior and the Duluth Harbor. The Great Lakes are arguably the most amazing creation of Glaciation on our planet. I watch ocean-going ships and 1000-foot ore boats pass into Duluth Harbor. More than 1,000 miles from the ocean, Minnesota has the most remote seaport in the world.

If we Minnesotans have to choose between creation by fire and ice, I think that ice will best suffice.
~David Borchert, Duluth, MN



Runner-up Nominations

The landscape of Minnesota today was created by glaciers. Their meltwater then created glacial lake Agassiz and the Mississippi and I believe Minnesota rivers. I believe, but I may be wrong, that they also laid down the limestone that is the basis of St. Anthony falls; if they didn't, whatever event did that should also be considered.
~ Steve BoydSmith

Without the glaciers, no lakes.
~Dean Ellingson, Brooklyn Park, MN

Five glaciers, glacial lake Duluth, more shoreline than California and Oregon put together. Not including any of our boundary waters, the Boundary Water Canoe Area, all our lakes and rivers, our hills and plains, our trees, our summers and our winters. But most of all the people who live and love here in Minnesota, past and present. The history of the people from its pioneer days to present helps to make Minnesota Minnesota.
~Susie Belford, St. Paul, MN

Minnesota used to be a state with no rivers and no lakes. Then the glaciers came, they carved all Minnesota except the corners. When the glaciers melted and left big lakes and lakes like Lake Superior was a little bit more bigger. When the temperatures got higher the lakes shrunk, making rivers.
~Jose M. C. Cervantes, Minneapolis, MN

The Laurentide ice sheet The Laurentide Ice sheet created Minnesota's diverse topography. It gave rise to thousands of lakes and rivers, including Lake Superior and the Mississippi, Minnesota and Red Rivers, which have significantly influenced Minnesota's cultural, biological, and economic history.
~Roberta L. Wilson Patten


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History

The shape of things to come

Ever wonder why the Red River of the North flows north? Why sections of the Red River Valley are so flat you can see across them for miles? Why, despite numerous dams and dikes, the river overflows its banks after heavy rains and rapid snow melts? Much of this has to do with geological events that occurred thousands of years ago, when glaciers melted and slowly retreated from the land that would become Minnesota. Nominator David Borchert of Duluth explains: "Down a well of time only twice as deep as the pyramids of Egypt, a continental glacier was receding from Minnesota. It left a blasted landscape of bedrock, boulders, gravel, sand, silt, and water. A land made by ice. Plants, animals, and eventually Lutherans colonized and scratched at the surface of the land, but the power of the glaciers still dominates our physical environment and profoundly shapes our work lives and our recreation.

"Glacial Lake Agassiz left a fertile lake bottom now known as the Red River Valley and a large overflow valley that now contains the meandering Minnesota River. Another great glacial meltwater stream carved the beautiful St. Croix River Valley to the east. The scoured bedrock of northern Minnesota became the stunning lakes of the BWCA. Further south and west, the random plowing of soil by moving ice and the deposition of sand and gravel around remaining chunks of ice created our recreational lakes for weekend trips and prairie potholes that facilitate continent-wide migrations. This glacially produced hydrological chaos of lakes, ponds, and marshes provides us with our greatest common enemy, the mosquito.

"I'm writing this note looking out over Lake Superior and the Duluth Harbor. The Great Lakes are arguably the most amazing creation of glaciation on our planet. I watch oceangoing ships and 1,000-foot ore boats pass into Duluth Harbor. Over 1,000 miles from the ocean, Minnesota has the most remote seaport in the world. If we Minnesotans have to choose between creation by fire and ice, I think that ice will best suffice."

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