Coteau des Prairies

The Coteau des Prairies is a plateau approximately 200 miles in length and 100 miles in width (320 by 160 km), rising from the prairie flatlands in eastern South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, and northwestern Iowa in the United States. The southeast portion of the Coteau comprises one of the distinct regions of Minnesota, known as Buffalo Ridge.

The flatiron-shaped plateau was named by early French explorers from New France (Quebec), coteau meaning "hill" in French; the general term coteau has since been used in English to describe any upland dividing ridge.[1]

The plateau is composed of thick glacial deposits, the remnants of many repeated glaciations, reaching a composite thickness of approximately 900 feet (275 m). They are underlain by a small ridge of resistant Cretaceous shale. During the last (Pleistocene) Ice Age, two lobes of the Laurentide glacier, the James lobe on the west and the Des Moines lobe on the east, appear to have parted around the pre-existing plateau and further deepened the lowlands flanking the plateau.

The plateau has numerous small glacial lakes and is drained by the Big Sioux River in South Dakota and the Cottonwood River in Minnesota. Pipestone deposits on the plateau have been quarried for hundreds of years by Native Americans, who use the prized, brownish-red mineral to make their sacred ceremonial pipes. The quarries are located at Pipestone National Monument in the southwest corner of Minnesota and in adjacent Minnehaha County, South Dakota.

Numerous wind farms have been built on the area to take advantage of the high average wind speeds.[2][3]

Coteau de praries v1
The Coteau des Prairies: blue arrows indicate paths of the two lobes of the glacier around either side of the formation.
Lewis and Clark Middle Missouri BigSioux James
This excerpt from the Lewis and Clark map of 1814 shows the rivers of western Iowa and eastern South Dakota. The Coteau des Prairies is seen near the upper center of the map, "High land covered with wood called mountain of the prairie."

Photos from North Dakota


Northern tip of Coteau des Prairies, as seen from 139th Ave SE near Havana, ND


Coteau des Prairies as seen from the northeast, near Lidgerwood, ND


The northern head of the Coteau des Prairies, as seen from the Northeast near Lidgerwood, ND.

See also


  1. ^ "entry for "coteau"". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  2. ^ "2009 Wind Technologies Market Report" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 1, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
  3. ^ "U.S. 80 Meter Wind Resource Map". Archived from the original on July 28, 2013. Retrieved July 5, 2013.

External links

Coordinates: 44°00′00″N 96°19′00″W / 44.0000°N 96.3167°W

Big Sioux River

The Big Sioux River is a tributary of the Missouri River, 419 miles (674 km) long, in eastern South Dakota and northwestern Iowa in the United States. The United States Board on Geographic Names settled on "Big Sioux River" as the stream's name in 1931. The river was named after the Lakota people (Sioux Indians).The Big Sioux River rises in Roberts County, South Dakota on a low plateau known as the Coteau des Prairies and flows generally southwardly through Grant, Codington, Hamlin, Brookings, Moody, and Minnehaha counties, past the communities of Watertown, Castlewood, Bruce, Flandreau, Egan, Trent, Dell Rapids, and Baltic to Sioux Falls, where it passes over a waterfall in Falls Park, which gives that city its name. Downstream of Sioux Falls and the community of Brandon, the Big Sioux is used to define the boundary between South Dakota and Iowa, flowing along the eastern borders of Lincoln and Union counties in South Dakota, and the western borders of Lyon, Sioux and Plymouth counties in Iowa, past the communities of Canton, Fairview, Hudson, Hawarden, North Sioux City, and Dakota Dunes in South Dakota and Beloit, Hawarden and Akron in Iowa. It joins the Missouri River from the north at Sioux City, Iowa.

Bowl (smoking)

A bowl, when referred to in pipe smoking, is the part of a smoking pipe or bong that is used to hold tobacco, cannabis, or other substances.

The exterior surface of the bowl of some pipes may be fashioned with some kind of design. The character Henry Flower, in James Joyce's Ulysses carries a tobacco pipe with the bowl carved into a head: "He carries a silverstringed inlaid dulcimer and a longstemmed bamboo Jacob’s pipe, its clay bowl fashioned as a female head."Thomas Curtis' London Encyclopaedia of 1839 describes a "fumigator", an instrument found in a doctor's surgery "for injecting tobacco smoke into the anus of drowned persons, with a view to excite the irritability of the muscles". Curtis describes the best as being made by a W. Willurgby "the bowl of which is of cast brass and is large enough to contain about an ounce and a half of tobacco".Scholarly interest in the history of the evolution of the bowl of the clay tobacco pipe, extends as far back as 1863. In the 1860s antiquaries attempted to date clay pipe bowls by their evolving shapes and sizes.The bowls of ceremonial pipes used by some indigenous American nations are often carved from red pipestone or catlinite, a fine-grained easily worked stone of a rich red color of the Coteau des Prairies, west of the Big Stone Lake in South Dakota. The pipestone quarries have traditionally been neutral ground among warring tribes, as people from multiple nations journeyed to the quarry to obtain the sacred pipestone. Sacred ceremonial pipes are not used for smoking intoxicants, but rather to offer prayers in a spiritual or religious ceremony.

Buffalo Ridge

Buffalo Ridge is a large expanse of rolling hills in the southeastern part of the larger Coteau des Prairies. It stands 1,995 feet (608 m) above sea level. The Buffalo Ridge is sixty miles long and runs through Lincoln County, Pipestone County, Murray County, Nobles County, and Rock County in the southwest corner of Minnesota.

Because of its high altitude and high average wind speed, Buffalo Ridge has been transformed into a place for creating alternative energy. Currently, over 200 wind turbines stand along the Buffalo Ridge.

Casey Jones State Trail

The Casey Jones State Trail is a multi-use recreational rail trail in southwestern Minnesota, USA. Although it was one of the first Minnesota state trails to be established, it remains incomplete as three discontinuous sections. The trail is managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It traverses the rolling morainal landscape of the Coteau des Prairies, passing cropland interspersed with wooded ravines, remnant tallgrass prairie, and wetlands. The trail is named after railroad engineer Casey Jones, who famously sacrificed his life to lessen the severity of a 1900 train crash in Mississippi. Jones had no connections to Minnesota; the trail was named for him as it was the first abandoned railroad grade acquired by the state. The railroad was key to bringing settlers to the area in the late 19th century and for shipping their agricultural products to market.

Coteau du Missouri

The Coteau du Missouri, or Missouri Plateau, is a large plateau that stretches along the eastern side of the valley of the Missouri River in central North Dakota and north-central South Dakota in the United States. In the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta this physiographic region is classified as the uplands Missouri Coteau, which is a part of the Great Plains Province or Alberta Plateau Region, which extends across the southwest corner of the province of Saskatchewan as well as the southeast corner of the province of Alberta. Historically, in Canada the area was known as the Palliser's Triangle regarded as an extension of the Great American Desert and unsuitable for agriculture and thus designated by Canadian geographer and explorer John Palliser. The terrain of the Missouri Coteau features low hummocky, undulating, rolling hills, potholes, and grasslands.

Geologically the plateau is part of the extended plateau of the Great Plains in the Dakotas, and is separated from the main plateau to the west by the Missouri River Trench. The plateau is underlain by Pierre shale covered with hardened deposits from repeated glaciations. The plateau also contains deposits of lignite, mirabilite (sodium sulfate), and bentonite. While subjected to continental glaciation, it was north and west of the Driftless Area, an area which escaped glaciation.

The plateau is poorly drained and is interspersed with glacial kettle lakes. It is transversed by several broad sags marking the ancient stream valleys of the eastern continuations of the Grand, Moreau, Cheyenne, Bad, and White rivers.

To the east of the plateau, the lowland valley of the James River was formed by the lobe of the most recent ice age, separating the plateau from the Coteau des Prairies to the east.

Agriculturally the plateau is a grain and livestock region.

Cottonwood River (Minnesota)

The Cottonwood River is a tributary of the Minnesota River, 152 miles (245 km) long, in southwestern Minnesota in the United States. Via the Minnesota River, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River, draining an area of 1,313 square miles (3,400 km2) in an agricultural region. The river's name is a translation of the Sioux name for the river, Waraju, for the cottonwood tree, which is common along prairie rivers. It has also been known historically as the Big Cottonwood River.The Cottonwood River flows generally eastwardly throughout its course. It rises southwest of Balaton in Rock Lake Township in southern Lyon County, as an intermittent stream on the Coteau des Prairies, a morainic plateau dividing the Mississippi and Missouri River watersheds. The river flows off the Coteau in a wooded valley in southeastern Lyon County, dropping 200 feet (60 m) in five miles (3 km), and enters a region of till plains, flowing through southern Redwood County, the northeastern corner of Cottonwood County, and northern Brown County, past the communities of Sanborn and Springfield. It enters a wooded valley near its mouth, flowing through Flandrau State Park and entering the Minnesota River just southeast of New Ulm. The river was formerly dammed to form a lake in the state park, but the dam was not rebuilt after being washed out by floods in 1965 and 1969.Due to the northeastward slope of the Coteau des Prairies and the presence of a terminal moraine along the northern side of the river, very few tributaries enter the Cottonwood River from the north. The largest is Sleepy Eye Creek, 51 miles (82 km) long, which flows eastwardly through Redwood and Brown Counties, past Cobden. Tributaries from the south include Plum Creek, 35 miles (56 km) long, which flows northeastwardly through Murray and Redwood Counties, past Walnut Grove; and Dutch Charley Creek, 46 miles (74 km) long, which flows northeastwardly through Murray, Cottonwood, and Redwood Counties.Approximately 84% of land in the Cottonwood River watershed is used for agriculture; the predominant crops are corn and soybeans. Wetlands in the watershed have been extensively drained, and fewer than 4,000 acres (16 km²) remain.

Grandview Township, Lyon County, Minnesota

Grandview Township is a township in Lyon County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 317 at the 2000 census.

Grandview Township was organized in the 1870s, and named for the scenic views from the Coteau des Prairies.


Ishtakhaba (Dakota: Ištáȟba), also known as Chief Sleepy Eyes, was a Native American chief of the Sisseton Dakota tribe. He became chief sometime between 1822 and 1825, receiving a commission from the Bureau of Indian Affairs as chief in 1824, and remained chief until his death in 1860. His band, known as the Swan Lake or Little Rock Band, hunted "in southwestern Minnesota and southeastern Dakota ... between Swan Lake and Coteau des Prairies," until forced to move to reservation land near the Minnesota River in the wake of the 1857 Spirit Lake Massacre.Ishtabkhaba tried to promote peace with whites in and around the state of Minnesota. He was a signer of at least four treaties with the United States government, including the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux, and met with President James Monroe in Washington, D.C. in 1824. Chief Sleepy Eyes was known for his friendships with "explorers, traders, missionaries and government officials". However, his nephew, who also bore the name "Sleepy Eyes," was involved in the 1862 Sioux Uprising.

James River (Dakotas)

The James River (also known as the Jim River or the Dakota River) is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 710 miles (1,140 km) long, draining an area of 20,653 square miles (53,490 km2) in the U.S. states of North Dakota and South Dakota. About 70 percent of the drainage area is in South Dakota. The river provides the main drainage of the flat lowland area of the Dakotas between the two plateau regions known as the Coteau du Missouri and the Coteau des Prairies. This narrow area was formed by the James lobe of the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the last ice age, and as a consequence the watershed of the river is slender and it has few major tributaries for a river of its length.

The James drops approximately 5 inches (130 mm) per 1 mile (1.6 km), and this low gradient sometimes leads to reverse flow. Reverse flow occurs when high inflow from tributaries leads to James River water flowing upstream for several miles above the joining water. This happens most frequently north of Huron, South Dakota.The river arises in Wells County, North Dakota, approximately 10 mi (16 km) northwest of Fessenden. It flows briefly east towards New Rockford, then generally SSE through eastern North Dakota, past Jamestown, where it is first impounded by a large reservoir (the Jamestown Dam), and then joined by the Pipestem River. It enters northeastern South Dakota in Brown County, where it is impounded to form two reservoirs northeast of Aberdeen.

At Columbia, it is joined by the Elm River. Flowing southward across eastern South Dakota, it passes Huron and Mitchell, where it is joined by the Firesteel Creek. South of Mitchell, it flows southeast and joins the Missouri just east of Yankton.

The James River flows fully across the state of South Dakota, the only river other than the Missouri to do so.River conditions during normal years include still water on both the James and its tributaries as well as flooding. Floods occur after snowmelt or heavy rains, as water easily breaches the James' low banks, and such floods tend to cover a significant portion of the floodplain. When the river is still, water quality drops.

Joseph Nicollet

Joseph Nicolas Nicollet (July 24, 1786 – September 11, 1843), also known as Jean-Nicolas Nicollet, was a French geographer, astronomer, and mathematician known for mapping the Upper Mississippi River basin during the 1830s. Nicollet led three expeditions in the region between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, primarily in Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

Before emigrating to the United States, Nicollet was a professor of mathematics at Collège Louis-le-Grand, and a professor and astronomer at the Paris Observatory with Pierre-Simon Laplace. Political and academic changes in France led Nicollet to travel to the United States to do work that would bolster his reputation among academics in Europe.

Nicollet's maps were among the most accurate of the time, correcting errors made by Zebulon Pike, and they provided the basis for all subsequent maps of the American interior. They were also among the first to depict elevation by hachuring and the only maps to use regional Native American placenames. Nicollet's Map of the Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi was published in 1843, following his death. Nicollet Tower, located in Sisseton, South Dakota is a monument to Nicollet and his work and was constructed in 1991.

Lac qui Parle River

The Lac qui Parle River is a tributary of the Minnesota River, 118 miles (190 km) long, in southwestern Minnesota in the United States. A number of tributaries of the river, including its largest, the West Branch Lac qui Parle River, also flow in eastern South Dakota. Via the Minnesota River, the Lac qui Parle River is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River, draining an area of 1,156 square miles (2,990 km2) in an agricultural region. Slightly more than two-thirds of the Lac qui Parle watershed is in Minnesota. Lac qui parle means "the lake which speaks" in the French language, and was a translation of the Sioux name for Lac qui Parle, a lake on the Minnesota River upstream of the mouth of the Lac qui Parle River.The source of the river is Lake Hendricks on the boundary of Lincoln County, Minnesota, and Brookings County, South Dakota. It issues from the lake in Hendricks, Minnesota, and flows northeastwardly through northwestern Lincoln County as an intermittent stream on the Coteau des Prairies, a morainic plateau dividing the Mississippi and Missouri River watersheds, into western Yellow Medicine County, where it flows off the Coteau, dropping 250 feet (76 m) in eight miles (13 km). Continuing northeastwardly through flat till plains with occasional willows and cottonwoods along its banks, the river flows into eastern Lac qui Parle County, passing to the east of Dawson. It flows into the Minnesota River just below Lac qui Parle Lake in Lac qui Parle State Park, approximately ten miles (15 km) northwest of Montevideo, after flowing through a wooded valley in which it drops 210 feet (64 m) in 18 miles (29 km). Lac qui Parle Lake was formed by a delta at the mouth of the Lac qui Parle River, and is maintained by a dam.The river's largest tributary, the West Branch Lac qui Parle River, 64.1 miles (103.2 km) long, rises on the coteau in eastern Deuel County, South Dakota, and flows initially northeastwardly as an intermittent stream, past Gary, South Dakota, then eastwardly through Lac qui Parle County, past Dawson. Other tributaries include two small trout streams: Canby Creek, 24 miles (39 km) long, which flows northeastwardly on the Coteau in western Yellow Medicine County, through Canby; and Tenmile Creek, 33 miles (53 km) long, which flows eastward and northwardy through Lac qui Parle County, through Boyd.According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, of the 806 square miles (2,090 km2) of the river's watershed in Minnesota, 79% of the land is used for agricultural cultivation, primarily corn and soybeans.

Lake Kampeska

Lake Kampeska is a 5,250-acre (21 km2) inland glacial lake in the U.S. state of South Dakota. It is located west-northwest of Watertown, South Dakota and lies entirely within Codington County and the Coteau des Prairies. The lake is naturally shaped and the most urban developed lake in South Dakota with approximately 13.5 miles (20 km) of residential shoreline. Lake Kampeska is connected to the Big Sioux River through a single inlet-outlet channel located on the northeast side. It is the third largest natural lake within the borders of South Dakota.

Lake Kampeska is well-known for its depictions in art from wildlife and nature artists such as Terry Redlin, John Greene, John Wilson, and Joshua Spies. Lake Kampeska is perhaps featured most prominently in the artworks of Terry Redlin and are displayed in the Redlin Art Center nearby in Watertown, South Dakota.

Lake Thompson (South Dakota)

Lake Thompson is a lake in Kingsbury County, South Dakota, United States. With an area of 16,236 acres (65.70 km2), it is one of the largest natural lakes in South Dakota. The maximum depth of the lake is 26 ft (7.9 m), and the shoreline has a length of 44.6 miles (71.8 km). The lake is located in east-central South Dakota, on the Coteau des Prairies and is within the watershed of the Vermillion River.

Lake Thompson's size is highly variable. It was completely dry during the 1930s. By the early 1990s, it had grown to cover (at times) 20,000 acres (81 km2), becoming the largest natural lake in the state.The lake is the location of a state recreation area managed by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks which includes camping facilities. Several boat launches are also located on the lake. A popular destination for anglers, game fish in the lake include walleye, northern pike, yellow perch and sunfish. Common carp and black bullheads are also present.The area is an important habitat for fish and waterfowl, and Lake Thompson has been named a National Natural Landmark.Lake Thompson has the name of John Thompson, an early settler. Lake Thompson is near De Smet, one of the residences of author Laura Ingalls Wilder, and appears in several of her novels as one of the "Twin Lakes", along with Lake Henry.

Pickerel Lake (South Dakota)

Pickerel Lake is a 955-acre spring-fed lake located in Day County, South Dakota, United States. Pickerel Lake is part of the Glacial Lakes Region that encompasses much of Northeast South Dakota and stretches along the Coteau des Prairies hills. The area was formed thousands of years ago by glacial activity. Many of the depressions left behind were filled by melting glaciers. This area is also referred to as the Prairie Pothole Region. Pickerel Lake is one of the deepest natural lakes in South Dakota. The name originated from an American Indian name meaning "where you spear long fish." Excursion boats were common until the early 1900s. A fish hatchery was built in 1929 and abandoned in 1979, when a new facility was built at Blue Dog Lake.

Vermillion River (South Dakota)

The Vermillion River is a tributary of the Missouri River, 96 miles (154 km) long, in eastern South Dakota in the United States. The origin of the river name is Waséoyuze Lakota for "place where Vermilion is obtained".It is formed by the confluence of the East Fork Vermillion River and West Fork Vermillion River. The East Fork, approximately 103 miles (166 km) long, rises in Lake Whitewood in Kingsbury County on the Coteau des Prairies. The West Fork, approximately 108 miles (174 km) long, rises in Miner County. Both forks flow south, roughly parallel, joining east of Parker. The combined river flows south and joins the Missouri east of the James River Highlands and 5 miles (8 km) south of Vermillion. Its tributaries include White Stone Creek and Baptist Creek. The Vermillion River drains about 2,180 square miles (5,600 km2) of the southwestern edge of the Coteau des Prairies. Approximately once per 3.5 years, the Vermillion runs dry.The Vermillion is a north-south river situated between the Big Sioux River and James River.

Waubay Wetland Management District

Waubay Wetland Management District is located in the "Coteau des Prairies", or prairie hills region of South Dakota. It includes more than 300 waterfowl production areas (WPAs) in six counties of northeastern South Dakota: Clark, Codington, Day, Grant, Marshall, and Roberts. The WPAs range from 40 acres (16 ha) to more than 1,600 acres (650 ha) in size, comprising a total of 40,000 acres (160 km2). WPAs provide vital wildlife habitat in a landscape of cropland and pasture.

Access to all WPAs is limited to foot traffic only. Grass parking lots are available at many of the larger WPAs to provide off-road parking. There are no facilities or designated hiking trails. WPAs tend to be used very heavily during hunting seasons, but they also provide wonderful opportunities to explore the natural areas of South Dakota at other times of the year.

Waubay Wetland Management District includes the very first waterfowl production area - McCarlson WPA, acquired in January 1959 from Arnold and Lydia McCarlson.

Windom, Minnesota

Windom is a city in Cottonwood County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 4,646 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Cottonwood County and is situated in the Coteau des Prairies.

Although it is a small, rural farming community, Windom is host to several parks including a newly installed disc golf course at Mayflower Park. The Des Moines River flows through Windom and serves as a gentle, rapid-free canoeing spot.

Yellow Bank River

The Yellow Bank River is a 12.0-mile-long (19.3 km) tributary of the Minnesota River in western Minnesota in the United States. It is formed by the confluence of two longer streams, the North Fork Yellow Bank River and the South Fork Yellow Bank River, which also flow in northeastern South Dakota. Via the Minnesota River, the Yellow Bank River is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River, draining an area of approximately 460 square miles (1,190 km²) in an agricultural region.

The river was named for yellowish glacial drift in bluffs along the river. Its name was translated from the Sioux language as "Spirit Mountain Creek" by William Keating in his account of Stephen Harriman Long's expedition to the region in 1823. It was labelled as "Yellow Earth River" on an 1860 map of Minnesota.

Yellow Medicine River

The Yellow Medicine River is a tributary of the Minnesota River, 107 miles (173 km) long, in southwestern Minnesota in the United States. Via the Minnesota River, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River, draining an area of 665 square miles (1,722 km²) in an agricultural region. Its name is a translation of the Dakota name for the river, pajutazee, ("huta" meaning "root," "zi" meaning "yellow," and "kapi" meaning "they dig"), The Yellow Medicine River issues from Lake Shaokatan in Shaokatan Township in western Lincoln County, approximately six miles (10 km) southwest of Ivanhoe, on the Coteau des Prairies, a morainic plateau dividing the Mississippi and Missouri River watersheds. It flows initially northeastwardly as an intermittent stream, past Ivanhoe. The stream flows off the Coteau in northeastern Lincoln County, dropping 250 feet (75 m) in five miles (8 km), and turns east-northeastwardly, following a generally treeless course on till plains through northern Lyon County and eastern Yellow Medicine County, past Hanley Falls. It flows into the Minnesota River in Upper Sioux Agency State Park in Sioux Agency Township, approximately eight miles (13 km) southeast of Granite Falls, after dropping 85 feet (30 m) in its final ten miles (15 km) in the Minnesota River valley.The Yellow Medicine River's largest tributaries are the North Branch Yellow Medicine River and the South Branch Yellow Medicine River, both of which flow for most of their lengths on the Coteau. The North Branch, 41 miles (66 km) long, flows northeastwardly through northern Lincoln County, briefly entering Yellow Medicine County and passing through Porter. The South Branch, 62 miles (99 km) long, flows northeastwardly through Lincoln County into northwestern Lyon County, past Minneota. Other tributaries of the Yellow Medicine include Spring Creek, 46 miles (74 km) long, which flows eastwardly through Yellow Medicine County; and Mud Creek, 31 miles (50 km) long, which flows eastwardly through western Yellow Medicine County into northwestern Lyon County.The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency statistically combines the watershed of the Yellow Medicine River with that of Hawk Creek on the opposite bank of the Minnesota River, as well as small watersheds of nearby Minnesota River tributaries. According to the agency, 81% of the land in the Yellow Medicine-Hawk Creek watersheds is used for agriculture, with corn and soybeans being the predominant crops.Species of fish in the Yellow Medicine River include catfish, carp, northern pike, walleye, and bullhead.

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