I don’t know what it’ll take to get these tracks back to operational status; it looks like a trellis system might be required, because I don’t think it’s feasible to try to rebuild and reinforce this section of the hill. Hopefully something can be done for next season, because this trolley ride is one of the more fun ways to spend a summer afternoon! I shot some video of my last ride…I’ll have to put a little something together and post it here.
Remember, this was about a month after environmental activist Bernard Shanks published a guest commentary on the St. Louis Today website outlining his fear of a “domino effect” on the Missouri River System. His nightmare scenario began with the failure of the Fort Peck Dam. While his article was very timely, it also coincided with one other important event: his publishing a book on the theory. I doubt that was a coincidence, but the whole thing gained a lot of traction in the Dakotas as we were already learning not to trust the Corps. Mr. Shanks appeared on local radio and links to his article were flying around Facebook rather furiously.
Naturally the last thing I wanted to do was contribute to any hype, so I just sat on my little discovery. I don’t deal in sensationalism and reliable information was already hard to come by in weary communities already made nervous by the fluidity of facts. Therefore I resolved to wait until the flood waters had receded and the threat of Mr. Shanks’ domino effect abated with them. I’ve watched as the river levels have fallen past the 9.79 feet of January 1st, 2011 and settled in the six-and-a-half foot range. While I think the event is certainly noteworthy, I certainly don’t think it was worth hysteria.
Here are a couple of links to the event for the curious. Its ID is event 11948206 for those of you who want to dart straight to Google for your own research.
Now let’s hope that the management of the Missour River System doesn’t put us in the same precarious position next year. In the unfortunate event that we find ourselves in a flood fight again, I hope the Corps will be more forthcoming and that people will resist the urge to play loose & fast with information. Events like this are far harder to endure when sensationalism runs amok as well.
One other thing that’s noteworthy, and hard to discern from these photos because they’re framed so differently, is how much farther south the sun sets in mid-September compared to June. On the longest day of the year, just four days after the top photo was taken, the sun sets much farther north. As winter creeps closer and the days grow shorter, however, the sun’s track moves southward and peaks lower in the southern sky during midday. It may be interesting to return to Double Ditch on the shortest day of the year and see where it intersects the horizon; if I do so, you’ll see it here.
Bringing this up to Mark, he told me to “read the signs!” Always willing to double check myself, I decided to take the long way home after work and investigate. Guess what: Hoge. Look above and see for yourself. Case closed, right? Nope.
I was hoping that it might be as simple as looking for a Hoge Township on the Burleigh County map (PDF), but sadly that did not yield the intended result. Burleigh County itself refers to the area as Hoge Island. So how do I try to get an authoritative, definitive answer?
Well, while I’ve actually been wondering about this since late May or early June, it turns out that the Bismarck Tribune has been on top of it. They did this story on the matter back in June and discovered that two branches of the family which once owned the land in the area spelled their last name in two different ways. So we’re BOTH right. Thanks to Chris Bjorke for the legwork on this one.
I knew a guy in college whose last name is Hoag. I wonder if he’d want to chime in on the matter
The most notable passage I’ve read so far is where Todd Lindquist writes, “I’m headed home. I no longer look people in the eye and tell them the forecast is 85,000 cfs from Garrison.” As it turns out, releases would eventually exceed that number by another 70,000 cfs… a fact North Dakota would be told only gradually.
There have been plenty of people making the case that the river was horribly mismanaged prior to the flood event. I wouldn’t argue with that. Now it’s time to figure out where everything went sideways and to prevent it from happening again.
In a way, I have a lot of sympathy for the Corps of Engineers; after all, they have strict guidelines to which they must adhere, guidelines which result in quite a juggling act as they struggle to make many competing interests happy. That’s quite an unenviable position.
Any investigation and resulting action that is taken in the aftermath of the Missouri River flood needs to be more than a simple headhunt. It also needs to take a long, hard look at the way the Missouri river system master management manual is written. Perhaps the dams should be returned to their original intended purpose: flood control. That way when barge traffic, recreation, and an endangered bird begin to cause mismanagement of the system, people’s lives and property don’t become casualties of the resulting mess.
With releases from the Garrison Dam continuing to diminish, I’m sure we’ll begin to see a major difference. I notice that the river gauge in Bismarck indicated 23.67 feet earlier today, but that’s obviously a glitch. Hopefully we’ll start a steady decline toward normal river levels soon!
Let’s just hope we get through this without further loss of property and that we can begin the recovery process. Minot has it even worse than we do, but one remarkable statistic throughout all of this North Dakota flooding is that we have not lost one single life to the disaster. That’s got to be the best news so far.