September 24, 2010

Crossing the Great Divide

We Coloradans tend to be obsessed with the Continental Divide. We speak of being on the Eastern Slope or the Western Slope. We name businesses etc. after it.

It runs through other parts of North America as well—see the red line on the map below.
(I am told that the divide was supposed to be the border between Idaho and Montana, but someone screwed up the survey in the 19th century, hence the narrow Idaho panhandle.)

Homeward bound from a recent trip to North Dakota, I paid tribute to another divide as I crossed from the Arctic back into the Atlantic (Gulf of Mexico) watersheds by visiting a geocache placed to mark it.

Here is a closeup of that area. I was right where the medium brown meets the light brown in southeastern North Dakota.

And here is the view from the divide, looking to the southwest, a typical scene of soybean field and slough full of waterfowl:

1 comment:

Peculiar said...

I remember being told, growing up in Montana, that the people of Butte didn't want to live in Idaho, so they hired some hookers to get the surveyors drunk and lead them astray from the true divide. Never did find that credible, but it's an amusing notion.

I never see it mentioned amidst the Continental Divide lore, but the Plains of St. Augustine in New Mexico seem to be another closed basin splitting the divide itself (though the east rim isn't terribly distinct). Of course, there's so little water in that neighborhood, it's a rather academic question.