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The Evolution of Lake Pepin, Minnesota--John Falconer

As told by John Falconer
Red Wing, Minnesota

Story Narrative:

John Falconer talks about how glaciers formed his corner of Minnesota, near the town of Red Wing (population 16,459), and how the surrounding lakes are continuing to evolve in modern times.

This story was collected as part of a collaborative effort to record the state of American lakes, rivers, and waterways as well an attempt to uncover what water means to Americans. Listen to other stories recorded by the Minnesota Humanities Center for their We Are Water MN initiative, an outgrowth of our national traveling exhibition "Water/Ways."  

"So, this whole area was shaped by the glaciers. The bluffs that you see just out the window here and our bluff is the last undeveloped bluff in central Red Wing that overlooks the river, survived the glaciers. These peaks that poked above them. So, the land was shaped primarily by the water. The river used to be 800 feet deeper here after glaciation time. So, sediment fills it in quickly. Lake Pepin ran up all the way to the Robert Street Bridge in Saint Paul. So that’s an ever evolving – that is the big thing, the big worry now is the continuing sediment – is it going to fill in Lake Pepin?

So, the Core Of Engineers are going to do some dredging this summer again. Thus, the land we have right here is old Mississippi River bottom. This is a–there is an island down below us there–that one bluff–it’s an old island. The water flowed through here before it carved the other deeper channel and it was moving rather quickly through here and it dropped the larger particles –so we are very sandy. And then this bluff behind us over here on this side, behind my house, slowed the water down as it made that corner, and turned, and so that’s all clay in those fields because the finer particles dropped out there. It is ever evolving."

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