As I walk along the flood level Red River, the song keeps going through my head.
The word “valley” is a misnomer. While the Red River drains the region, it did not create a valley wider than a few hundred feet. It is remarkably flat; from its origin – the confluence of Bois de Sioux and Otter Tail rivers near Breckenridge, MN, to the international border near Emerson, Manitoba, its gradient is only about 1 foot per mile. The river, slow and small in most seasons, does not have the energy to cut a gorge. Instead it meanders across the silty bottomlands in its progress north. In consequence, high water has nowhere to go, except to spread across the old lake bed in “overland flooding”.