Small Towns and a Sad Landscape


As luck would have it, there was another National Wildlife Refuge right by Turtle River State Park so we set off in the morning to check it out. Kelly's Slough National Wildlife Refuge (OK - who knows how to pronounce the word slough? Not me...) was smaller than Sherburne and, according to their website, has had as many as 22 different species of migratory birds onsite in mid-summer but we only saw a couple. Was a pretty place to see, though.


When time permits, we try and stop at all of the historic site signs and learn what we can about the area. We have learned some pretty neat (and some pretty useless) information this way.  It also leads you into some small towns that you might not go into otherwise as was the case in Michigan, ND. No - I had no idea there was a town in North Dakota called Michigan, either. I don't remember if we actually saw the historic sign that drew us into the town because we got sidetracked by a small town festival going on. Turns out it was a kids' tractor pull contest with pedaled John Deere toy tractors. Was fun to watch for a while and I couldn't help but notice how much fun the town folk seemed to be having. Simple pleasures we city folk forget about.

I don't have any photos of the rest of the drive across northern North Dakota for a reason. I couldn't bring myself to document the mile after mile of man-made destruction. This is fracking country and it was quite a shock to see since I had just been to North Dakota for the first time last fall and found it so beautiful. But I had taken the southern route and not seen the endless signs of humans raping the land. We drove very near the site where the Standing Rock people are still fighting for the right to clean water. We spent the night at a Walmart in the city that is the center of the fracking operations - Williston, ND. 

North Dakota’s economy started to boom about eight years ago due to advances in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and by 2014 it had the fastest growing economy in the nation. The city of Williston, in the middle of the state’s Bakken oil patch, grew by an astounding 67% from 2010 to 2014 according to the U.S. Census. But as oil prices began to fall, so did the fortunes of this area and the people who came for the opportunity. Although things are picking up a bit, the city is facing high levels of unemployment and families are unsure if they should try and stick it out, hoping for it to get better or leave the area in search of more stability. Seeing this certainly reinforced my belief that we should be investing in clean, renewable power wherever we can.