|Red River of the North|
|Countries||United States, Canada|
|Regions||Minnesota, North Dakota, Manitoba|
|Part of||Nelson River basin|
|- left||Bois de Sioux River, Wild Rice River (North Dakota), Sheyenne River, Elm River[disambiguation needed], Turtle River, Pembina River, Assiniboine River|
|- right||Otter Tail River, Buffalo River, Wild Rice River (Minnesota), Red Lake River, Roseau River, Seine River (Manitoba)|
|Cities||Fargo, North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Source||Confluence of Bois de Sioux and Otter Tail Rivers|
|- location||Wahpeton, North Dakota|
|- elevation||948 ft (289 m)|
|- elevation||712 ft (217 m)|
|Length||550 mi (885 km)|
|Basin||111,004 sq mi (287,499 km2) |
|Discharge||for Lockport, Manitoba, 20 miles (32 km) above the mouth|
|- average||8,617 cu ft/s (244 m3/s)|
|- max||152,900 cu ft/s (4,330 m3/s)|
|- min||491 cu ft/s (14 m3/s)|
The Red River (French: Rivière rouge, German: Roter Fluss, American English: Red River of the North) is a North American river. Originating at the confluence of the Bois de Sioux and Otter Tail rivers between the U.S. states of Minnesota and North Dakota, it flows northward through the Red River Valley, forming the border of Minnesota and North Dakota and continuing into Manitoba, Canada. It empties into Lake Winnipeg, whose waters join the Nelson River and ultimately flow into the Hudson Bay, which is considered part of the Arctic Ocean.
The Red River flows through several urban areas along its path, including those of Fargo-Moorhead and Grand Forks in the United States and Winnipeg in Canada. The Red is about 885 kilometres (550 mi) long, of which about 635 kilometres (395 mi) are in the United States and about 255 kilometres (158 mi) are in Canada. The river falls 70 metres (230 ft) on its trip to Lake Winnipeg where it spreads into the vast deltaic wetland known as Netley Marsh.
In the United States, the Red River is sometimes called the Red River of the North, to distinguish it from the Red River that is a tributary of the Atchafalaya River, and that forms part of the border between Texas and Oklahoma.
Long a highway for trade, the Red has been designated as a Canadian Heritage River.
The watershed of the Red River was part of Rupert's Land, the Hudson's Bay Company concession in north central North America. The Red was a key trade route for the company, and contributed to the settlement of British North America. The stream was used by fur traders, including the Métis people, and by the settlers of the Red River Colony, the primary settlement of which eventually became Winnipeg, Manitoba. The river gave its name to the Red River Trails, nineteenth-century oxcart trails which supported this trade and these settlements, and which led to further development of the region on both sides of the international border.
The Red River forms at Wahpeton, North Dakota and Breckenridge, Minnesota, passes through Fargo, North Dakota/Moorhead, Minnesota and Grand Forks, North Dakota/East Grand Forks, Minnesota, and then continues on to the province of Manitoba in Canada. Manitoba's capital — Winnipeg — is at the Red's confluence with the Assiniboine River, at a point commonly referred to as The Forks. The Red then flows further north before draining into Lake Winnipeg which is part of the Hudson Bay watershed through the Nelson River. The mouth of the Red River forms a freshwater river delta called the Netley-Libau Marsh. The Netley Marsh is west of the Red and the Libau Marsh is east to form a 26,000 hectare wetland.
Southern Manitoba has a comparatively long frost-free season, between 120 and 140 days in the Red River Valley.
The Red River flows across the flat lakebed of the ancient glacial Lake Agassiz, an enormous glacial lake created at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation from meltwaters of the Laurentide ice sheet. As this continental glacier decayed, its meltwaters formed the lake, and over thousands of years sediments precipitated to the bottom of the lakebed. These lacustrine soils are the parent soils of today's Red River Valley. The river itself is very young; it began only after Lake Agassiz drained, about 9,500 years ago.
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, and the much-wider floodplain is the lakebed of the glacial lake. It is remarkably flat; from its origin near Breckenridge, Minnesota to the international border near Emerson, Manitoba, its gradient is only about 1:5000 (1 metre per 5 kilometres), or approximately 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 lakebed in "overland flooding". Heavy snows or rains, on saturated or frozen soil, have caused a number of catastophic floods, which often are made worse by the fact that snowmelt starts in the warmer south, and waters flowing northward are often dammed or slowed by ice. These periodic floods have the effect of refilling, in part, the ancient lake.
Major floods in historic times include those of 1826, 1897, 1950, 1997, and 2009, and many years in between have seen significant flooding. There have been many other floods in prehistoric times, of equal or greater size. These "paleofloods" are known from their effects on local landforms, and have been the subject of scholarly studies. Flooding has been such a concern for Winnipeg that it warranted the construction of the Red River Floodway. Grand Forks, North Dakota took a similar precaution after the flood of 1997, constructing a removable flood wall.
On May 8, 1950 the Red River reached its highest level at Winnipeg since 1861. Eight dikes protecting Winnipeg gave way and flooded much of the city, turning 600 square miles (1,554 km2) of farmland into an enormous lake. The city turned to the Canadian Army and the Red Cross for help, and nearly 70,000 people were evacuated from their homes and businesses. Four of eleven bridges in the city were destroyed, and damage was estimated at between $900 million and $1 billion.
As a result of the floods, a flood control project was started to ensure the same would never happen again. The Red River Floodway around Winnipeg was cause for some derision at the time, as it seemed massively overbuilt and was the then-largest earth-moving project in the world. The project was completed under-budget, and has been used for at least some flood control twenty times in the thirty-seven years from its completion to 2006. The Floodway has saved an estimated $10 billion (CAD) in flood damages.
In the spring of 1997 a major flood of the Red River caused $3.5 billion in damage and required temporary evacuation of towns and cities on both sides of the border. The flood crested at 24.5 feet (7.5 m) above datum at the James Avenue pumping station in Winnipeg making it the third highest flood at Winnipeg in recorded history only being surpassed by the floods of 1852, and 1826.
|Wikinews has related news: Fargo, North Dakota, prepares for record flooding|
In 2009 the Red River flooded in early spring. By Friday, March 27, the river at Fargo had reached the highest level in recorded history, and its discharge at that location was far in excess of normal flows. The water ended up cresting at the James Avenue pumping station in Winnipeg at 22.5 feet (6.9 m) above datum making it the fourth highest flood in recorded history.
Due to a wet summer in 2010 as well as an above average amount of snowfall in the Red River Valley, The Red River spilled its banks and Red River crested in Winnipeg at the James Avenue pumping station at 19.59 feet (5.97 m) above datum as the sixth highest flood levels in recorded history if flood protection such as the Portage Diversion and the Red River Floodway were not in place. As the Red River was not a major concern in 2011, all of the attention turned to the surprise major flood on the Assiniboine River. In May 2011, a Manitoba-wide state of emergency was declared in the wake of a 1 in 300 year flood on the Assiniboine River at Brandon.
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