Fighting a flood

Fargo building during the 1897 Red River flood
Courtesy USGS;
photo taken by R.M. Stene

Flooding is a problem for much of the Red River Valley—a shallow scrape, geologically speaking, across one of the flattest surfaces on Earth. Minor floods occur almost every year as the spring thaw coincides with water flowing into the Red River from areas downstream. With heavy snow or rain, ice dams, or deep frosts, yearly floods can become truly devastating. The shallow valley fills, and flood water pours out onto the surrounding area like a spilled drink on a tabletop.