08-Apr-2022 -- As I was in the state for a series of university and tribal college visits to support the use of geotechnologies in education, and as it had been 11 months since my last set of confluence visits and I was missing these field excursions so much, and as the focus of the confluence project is geotechnologies (mapping, GPS, and the land), I thought a fitting ending to my Minnesota work this week was to visit 44 North 94 West. Another good sign was that I had just visited the Minnesota State University library and at the entrance there was a set of murals depicting cities around the world at 44 degrees north latitude. It was almost too perfect a set up for this visit.
Hence once my meetings were done at the university, I headed south out of town on Stoltzman Ave, turning into 568th Ave once free of the city. This wound to an east-west road 169th St. At Highway 22 I turned south to 158th Street. I then drove east. The fields here are planted in soybeans, corn, and hay, with some grazing; really wonderful farmland in the glacial till. Anticipation mounted as I left 158th at 568th Ave, south for a few hundred meters. This is the closest home to the confluence and I assumed the landowner, too, or at least the person who could tell me about the site. I parked on the new gravel; there were a few large trucks and a car parked there too, but upon knocking on the door, the only response was a startled dog, wondering no doubt who I was. I could see the dog through the glass. I stood there for a few minutes and then walked north to their barn, saying hello to a small show horse - was not sure of the type - a regular sized horse, and a donkey. The whole area looked very well maintained, and I pondered my options, still clutching the landowner permission request letter. In respecting the landowner, I declined to upload a picture of their fine animals.
I finally drove back to the east-west road north of the confluence and decided to walk from there. It was fiercely windy and I had to chase a glove before it blew over to Iowa. I had brought plastic bags and rubber bands with me to walk into the field with, anticipating a muddy walk, to cover my shoes against the mud, but then thought: If they failed, I didn't want plastic bags to be littering the landscape. I decided to strike out in my work clothes and shoes, though I did don a raincoat, hat, and gloves. I gingerly walked west and then south, avoiding the furrows, though it didn't look like anything had been planted, I didn't want to damage anything if seeds were in fact there. It had been raining and snowing all week so I knew it would be muddy. The first 5 minutes from the road was fairly dry on the higher ground bordering the road, but then I experienced the glacial till soils making my shoes heavier with each step. I reached the point after about 25 minutes, though it seemed longer due to the wind, my careful stepping, and the difficulty.
The confluence lies on flat ground with good views in all directions, especially to the southeast. The temperature stood at about 45 F (7 C) under sunny, windy skies. The point was due east, as I suspected it would be, of the barn I had visited earlier. I had stood on 94 West numerous times in 20 years of visiting confluences, from Minnesota on the north to Texas on the south. I had stood on 44 North many times as well, from South Dakota on the west to Maine on the east. This was about my 8th point in Minnesota over 20 years, and it was a lovely part of the world. I had visited the point 1 degree east of here, and 1 degree north of here, in the past, but not yet the points immediately south and west.
Alas, I had an airplane to catch so I spent only 10 minutes on site, holding the confluence sign with my teeth due to the wind, and filming this 44 North Latitude 94 West Longitude video there. To return to the road, I walked almost due north, again taking great care. I stamped my feet on the 15 minutes on the road back to the vehicle to avoid tracking it all over the car and in the airport. It was only partly effective. The total hike distance was 1.55 miles and required about 1 hour. I drove through some lovely terrain and small towns en route to the Minneapolis St Paul airport and this was a wonderful way to conclude my work in Minnesota this week. Get out there and explore!