Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Back to Pike Island

It was only fifty-four degrees today, but there was no wind and the sun was shining in a cloudless sky. I spent the morning threatening to go to Pike Island and in the afternoon I actually did it. It was again a very beautiful day in a month that often produces day after day of clouds.  At the top of the hill by Fort Snelling - the old fort itself - I stopped for a photo of one of the corner towers. The slits in the wall allow cover for anyone shooting from this location and was probably pretty daunting to any attackers. It's been 150 years since the U.S. Dakota War of 1862, maybe the last time the stone walls were relevant for warriors, but the fort has been restored to reflect those days and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to storm the walls.

I walked down the big hill to the stream that separates the mainland from Pike Island and walked to the edge of the big river. There is a pole in the ground which is marked with the heights of the great floods in the last 150 or so years. The current level of the drought stricken river is very much below the level of the land where the pole is standing. It's been a dry, dry year.

It's not often that the Mississippi River is so still as to appear mirror-like. Today it was.  Shortly after I took the photo a block long barge went by and roiled the surface, making the mirror back into a rippled river surface.

I spent about an hour on Pike Island, doing a circle on the nearest third of the island hoping that I might spot a deer or two, but I was disappointed in that quest. There has been an archery deer season across the river in Crosby Park and the deer may be spooked. Or maybe I just didn't happen to encounter any of them. I did see some trees downed by beavers and a lot of noisy squirrels. In any case, it was a peaceful place for a nature walk and I was glad to be in one of my favorite natural (or near natural) places in the cities.

The late afternoon sun and the calm winds helped produce this view of the bridge to Pike Island, taken from Pike Island itself just before I left the island to climb the hill back to the fort.

In the winter of 1862-63, after the Dakota War, about 1,600 non-combat Dakotas were held over the winter in an internment camp on Pike Island, and suffered severe hardship. As many as 300 died. Those who survived were forcibly moved to reservations in what is now Nebraska.


Retired Professor said...

Lovely photo of the Pike Island bridge. Nice shadows. Sunshine on a November day is a real bonus.

That's not your traditional Thanksgiving day with the Indians story.

Jimi said...

RP: Do I have a traditional Thanksgiving day with the Indians story? Does it have anything to do with the Beach Boys? Or Burnett county road names?

Gino said...

It's a really nice shot of a pretty cool bridge. Long ago when I worked in the park it was a causeway across to Pike Island. The backwater was stagnant and gross. The bridge looks WAY better.

Retired Professor said...

Sorry, poorly phrased. It's a generic 'you.' That's not the traditional Pilgrims feasting with the native population story that is often depicted in grade schools as the first Thanksgiving.

Beach Boys? That would be goose.

BDE said...

Gorgeous pictures of the river!

Emily Miller said...

I really, really like the photo of the fort. Excellent angle.