Photo of the Couteau des Prairie. This does not do it justice. This place begs for some photographers and artists to capture the images.
I drove yesterday north and west from our farm through Browns Valley, Minnesota on my way to NDSU. This is a magical place. Magical. It is the continental divide between the Gulf of Mexico and the Hudsons Bay. I was so distracted driving here-- the landscape changes dramatically from flat corn and bean fields to a valley with boulders, grasses, and the couteau across the valley rising up in the Dakotas. Other worldly, haunting, soul touching, lovely. It feels safe and sheltered. The wind was howling-- shaking my car along the road. I felt that if I were here hundreds or thousands of years ago I would feel safe. I had the sensation that I had roots here-- ancient roots. I felt it in my bones.
The earliest people on this land were drawn here. About 9,400 years ago the ice dams broke loose and waters flowed to the north-- the Red River. How dramatic that must have been! And people made this their home shortly after that. I looked it up when I got home and found this history of the region
"The area has seen human presence for thousands of years. A Paleo-Indian skeleton now know as "Browns Valley Man" was unearthed in 1933, under circumstances which suggested death after deposition of the gravel but before creation of significant topsoil. Found with tools of the Clovis and Folsom types, the human remains have been dated approximately 9,000 years b.p.
The Traverse Gap was used by Native Americans, who recognized its geographic significance. Two buffalo skulls were placed on the continental divide, where travelers would stop to smoke a pipe to mark the place where the waters divided."
As you pass through here you can sense that something significant is happening on this landscape. One can almost feel the continental divide.