Kidder County Outwash Plain
I have been told that Kidder County is the only county in the state without a bridge. I have mentioned that to several people that live in and around Kidder County, and no one has known of a bridge to disprove the statement, and I haven’t heard that claim for another county.
There are certainly some culverts in Kidder County, but no rivers are shown in the county on the North Dakota highway map. I recently got out my copy of John Bluemle’s Guide to the Geology of South-Central North Dakota, and the map in that publication doesn’t shown any creeks or rivers either. One geological feature of the county, however, was quite noticeable, and may be related to a lack of bridges.
A goodly portion of Kidder County is what geologists call outwash. As the name implies, outwash is sediment deposited by running water. These sediments are often composed of sand and gravel that has been washed out by the water that melted from the glaciers during the last ice age. Extensive areas of outwash are often referred to as outwash plains.
There is an outwash plain in central Kidder County that is sometimes referred to as the Kidder County Outwash Plain. I did a quick, crude estimate of the extent of this outwash plain based on the geology and soils maps of the county. There is somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 square miles of outwash, covering around one-third of the county. As one might expect, rivers and streams are not all that common in areas of outwash. The water often flows below ground in those areas.
This outwash plain runs roughly from the Tuttle area to around Pettibone and southward to Long Lake. The area is noticeably sandy even to the casual observer, and the landscape is level to gently rolling over much of the area. Blumele notes in his guide that the sands and gravels can be 20 feet or more thick and in places up to 40 feet thick.
If you know of a bridge in Kidder County, please email me at email@example.com. There may be a bridge or two tucked away somewhere in Kidder County, but there can’t be very many. One thing, however, is fairly certain about this apparent lack of bridges. We shouldn’t expect Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep to show up in Steele anytime soon to check out the area for a new movie!
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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