Biggest Ball of String

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The Continental Divide?

on February 6, 2013

Driving from Fargo towards Minneapolis MN, somewhere by Fergus MN, there’s a sign that says “Continental Divide” (technically would be in the range of my blog of October 9, 2012)…

What is a “Continental Divide”, you ask?  The dictionary definition is: “The dividing line for a continent that determines into which ocean precipitation will eventually flow.”  Basically, to which ocean will all rivers and streams run.

IF you are from the Rockies, you know where the Continental Divide is, and it’s not in Minnesota…

 The first time I crossed the Continental Divide (and noticed) was years ago, going through the Crowsnest Pass (for more on the Crowsnest, see blog February 3, 2013), between B.C. and Alberta. Having lived my whole life on the west side, where the watershed runs to the Pacific Ocean, I was stunned to see the water running the other direction – it looked like it was running uphill!!

 Now that I’ve lived about the same amount of time on the east side of the Continental Divide, the water looks like it’s running uphill when I cross over to the west side…could be time to move… 

But that’s the Rocky Mountains…what’s in Minnesota?

So, I looked it up – and probably most of you (or, at least some of you) know this, but if I knew it, I’ve forgotten. The Continental Divide in the Rockies is The GREAT Divide (of course it is) which separates the watershed between the Pacific and the Atlantic (including the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.)  The Great Divide runs from all the way from northern Alaska to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, following the mountain ranges of The Rocky Mountain Range AND the Andes!!!

However, in North America, there are SIX Continental Divides. The one we crossed over in Minnesota is called the Laurentian, Northern Divide, or Hudson Bay Divide. It separates the watershed between the Arctic Ocean through the Hudson Bay and the Atlantic Ocean…


Incidentally, this is the same Divide that makes the South Saskatchewan River (see Blog date Sept 26, 2012) run north…which makes sense, now that I think of it…

One more point about this particular Divide – it meets the Great Divide at Triple Divide Peak in Glacier Park, MT. How did I not know this !!???  (It runs from Triple Divide Peak to the Labrador Peninsula at the Hudson Strait.)

(The other 4 North American Divides are

  • the Arctic ~ which meets the Great Divide at Snow Dome (which is a mountain in the Columbia Icefield (future blog), onNorth America Continental Divides Alberta/British Columbia border) to the Oikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, at the Hudson Strait.  The watershed runs north to the Arctic Ocean and south to the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean.
  • the St. Lawrence ~ which runs from just north of Hibbing, Minnesota to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, at the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The watersheds (I think – I’ve been having some trouble pinpointing this one) are the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico…
  • the Eastern ~ runs from the north of Pennsylvania, to the southern tip of Florida, and follows the Appalachian Mountain Range from Pennsylvania to Georgia. The watershed runs either into the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
  • the Great Basin ~ is the western continental divide. this one is actually a semi-round (not round at all, but the start and the end are the same place, so I don’t know how to describe it – …see map, attached, as per wikipedia). Apparently, the watershed is the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico…and waters that “lose themselves in the Basin”. (The Great Salt Lake is one of the places in which the waters lose themselves, with the Basin.)

Rocky Mountains

Every continent except for Antarctica has a continental divide.

Huh.  I learned more than I expected this time. How about that!

OK!  Sunday,  on to Fernie, British Columbia.

http://www.uwec.edu/andersrn/Triple_Divide_Pts.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continental_divide

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