Saturday, February 8, 2014

Otter Tail River Memories

  The Otter Tail River is a Minnesota's eighth longest river, running through the western part of the state before pouring into the Red River.  It starts as crystal clear water while moving downhill as a narrow stream through several lakes and marshes. After Fergus Falls the river flattens out, as it runs through prairie grasslands and farmland on it's way to Breckenridge.
  Rapids are not common in western Minnesota.  The gradient of the land just doesn't drop that fast. A second-hand pool table might have more of a slant than a western Minnesota river.  However,  just east of Fergus Falls,  the Otter Tail makes an abrupt turn toward the west running through a wooded valley filled with Class I and II rapids along the way. The turmoil continues all the way toward Broken Down Dam.
  Broken Down Dam has been crumbling into the Otter Tail ever since it's collapse 1909.  The dam was improperly built over a spring the year before. The riverbed quickly gave way at the foundation of the dam causing a major flood at its time. The dam broke right through its center leaving two huge concrete walls which the river flows between.  A boulder garden of debris was left behind.
  During the spring run off or after a good summer rain the stream rages to fast moving Class III rapids. It is perfect for practice for white water kayaks. It is also a treat to get my son Cole out on the water.