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Home: Regional: U.S. States: South Dakota: Yankton County

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Missouri River bluffs
Posted by: Dennis Johnson (ID *****3355) Date: May 31, 2005 at 18:13:57
In Reply to: Re: Haggin's Bend(?)in the Missouri River, Yankton, SD by Lynelle Swensen of 99

This looks like an excellent time for a geology lesson. If you look on a highway map you will find Yankton, Meckling and Vermillion. Vermillion is on the edge of a bluff that is 100/150 feet or so above the flat Missouri floodplain. Until the Missouri River was dammed, in the early 1960's, the river ran wherever it wanted, and snaked around in the sandy floodplain. The bluffs go north/northwest from Vermillion to several miles north of Meckling and then tend to go straight west from there. Volin and Mission Hill are also on the edge of the bluff. The bluffs in the Yankton city limits are as much as 250 feet above the river to only a dozen feet. So, you can see the river had a ten mile wide (or wider) sandbox in which to meader.
Though not a wide river, every few years the Missouri had enough water in it (in the spring) to cut a new channel. These new channels had a lot of bends in them. Most of these reverses had a name given to them but the bend wasn't going to be there forever so the names would appear/disappear with the whims of the river. The Missouri is always cutting it's way through the sand but it would pretty much stay on a course until a large flood would radically change it's path, maybe once in 30/50 years. A 1902 Clay county atlas that I have mentions Audobon's Pt., Sand Hill Reach, North Alabama Bend, Mulberry Pt and The Narrows. I'm sure there are more.
You might be able to find a Yankton County atlas at the Yankton library. I know the State Historical Society (in Pierre, the capitol) used to have atlases that could be copied. You can find them online if you search with the name South Dakota Historical Society. These atlases will give you a location of property owners for that particular year. I would e-mail the Yankton library to see if they have copyable (if that is a word) atlases.
There is a Yankton County Museum, also known as the Dakota Territorial Museum, at 610 Summit (Yankton, SD 57078, ph 605-665-3898) that might have atlases to copy or sell. I got two Clay County atlases, 1885/1902, from the Clay County Historical Society.

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