Coldwater Journal is a record of personal observations and reflections from visits to the Coldwater campus.

Please feel free to submit your thoughts and reflections about Coldwater for posting here on the FRIENDS of COLDWATER site via email.
Coldwater Journal is chronologically reversed. The newest postings are first.
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Saturday, 12.3.11
They Didn't Write Down Their Stories

(Coldwater Spring) Something is wrong with the water. The water is opaque. The reservoir has been clear since the otters ate the last fish. Apparently there's a mink with an appetite for ducks—but you can't see down to the bottom.
Building 4, the warehouse just south of the reservoir is being torn down. We asked John Anfinson to investigate. Two big logs from the great willow tree are still floating in the reservoir. Are willows so full of tannin that the reservoir would be stained?
Anfinson, Chief of Resource Management for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), spoke about plans to stabilize the Spring House and reservoir as a ruin. That would entail a wall of cement (concrete??) behind the existing limestone reservoir walls—an invisible wall that would fix or seal the ruin.
The talk on the first three Coldwater tours led by National Park Service officials, Superintendent Paul Labovitz, Anfinson and Land Use and Planning Specialist Alan Robbins-Fenger is:
1) Taconite, diesel, mining safety, the 1950-1995 Bureau of Mines period
2) Military-industrial waterworks constructed in the 1880s and used until 1920. The U.S. Army decided to stop carting wagonloads of water to Fort Snelling and built the Spring House and reservoir. The old pumping complex, water towers to gravity-feed water to the Fort, and an engineer's house are gone.
As interesting as those factoids are, there was almost no mention of 9,000-years of Native American history in the area because "they didn't write down their stories." Oral history is an academic discipline—in fact my brother earned his doctorate in oral history about 40-years ago.
"The Bible itself is based on oral history," Eddie Benton Benais said during his part of 16 hours of court-ordered Native American testimony in 1999. Benais, Grand Chief of the Mdewiwin Society (Medicine Lodge), a full blood Ojibwa from Lac Courte Oreilles, Wisconsin, offered the most specific testimony about the importance of Coldwater Spring where Dakota, Ojibwe, Ho Chunk, Iowa, Sauk and Fox peoples held great gatherings.
Another story is 451-million years of geologic history from 10,000-year old Coldwater Spring down the Mississippi bluff to the sandstone waterfall at the mouth of Coldwater Creek. This story is written in the land and the land can teach you how to read its history if you take the time to read land-language.
Most people want to hear about Indian history and the sacred landscape that Coldwater Spring is. Anfinson talked about hundreds of thousands of visitors each year which would allow the National Park Service to hire a tour guide. Hundreds of thousands of feet trampling through a sacred site where people gather water and pray is hard to fathom.
But imagine a Dakota guide in the signature flat-brimmed NPS hat sharing Native history with local children, foreign tourists the curious general public.

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Wednesday, 10.5.11
Willow: The Next Generation

The Willow, Makwa and Sequoia.
photo: FoC.

(Coldwater Spring) It's time to pot your willow whips if you've been keeping them in water. The willows need to transfer their water-based diet to dirt before winter (another cold, snowy La Niña is forecast). I spoke with Dan the Oakman, Henry from Friends School Plant Sale, and a nice guy at Bachman's where I bought a bag of potting soil.

Put each willow whip with all those nifty little roots into a pot of nutritious soil and water it and keep it moist. Don't line the bottom of the pot with rocks. And you don't need a big pot since the roots will not be growing over the winter.

Keep the potting soil constantly wet. Wet is crucial—check daily. Before the ground freezes bury your potted willow whips to over-winter in the ground. Being in-ground protects the roots from acute freeze and thaw cycles. Hint: mark the place where your pots are buried with a tall stake to remind you and to protect it.

Come spring, you'll dig the pots out, and water your proto-willow trees. And then water some more and transplant the willow into a larger pot—or perhaps you've found the perfect place to plant your little tree in a low, boggy area.

Dan the Oakman was particularly adamant about caring for these sacred willow descendants for several years until they get "established."

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Tuesday, 8.16.11
Welcome a Willow into Your Life

(Coldwater Spring) 50 willow whips are waiting for adoption at Coldwater. Take a container for water with you.
Here is Dan Keiser's advice on the next generation of Willow:
Just stick 'em in a bucket of water for a couple weeks. It's quite amazing & easy to do. Save me some pieces (thick as possible, at least 3' long) & stick them in water.
Yours in oaks & other things of concern & compassion, Dan
Plant your willows in good (or potting) soil and keep them watered. Keep them moist for a year. Plant willow in a wet, or low place.
The 50 willow whips are in 2 plastic buckets behind the wall directly opposite the outflow of Coldwater reservoir. See the water falling over the lip of the pond? That's where you fill up your container that you brought with you—okay turn around and walk to the wall. See the 2 buckets in the shade.

After you choose your proto-willow trees (& take a couple extra) be sure the base of the remaining willow whips are submerged. They should be in the shade. Add water to the brim to keep the willow whips in good shape until they are all adopted.

Get a willow for your friends.

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Wednesday, 8.03.11
Archaeology at Coldwater

(Coldwater Spring) The great willow beside Coldwater reservoir has been declared a “hazard” and is scheduled to be cut Thursday, 8/18. Deep, wide archaeological trenches have been cut around the willow, exposing its roots.

A National Park Service spokesman said cutting the roots of the tree would not hurt it.

On Saturday night at the
Full Moon Walk (8/13) we will support the willow.
"What are you finding?"
"Mostly earthworms and grubs."
Trench south of willow tree.
On June 7, 2011, John Anfinson (of the National Park Service) wrote: "We are taking out the scrubbier trees and all the pines [approximately 65].... We are leaving trees that are native and healthy.... We hope to begin planting new trees in the years following the initial restoration.... While the willow tree is very old and fragile, we are leaving it in."

Photos by Susu Jeffrey
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Sunday, 6.12.11
A Process of Inclusion

(Coldwater Spring) The Coldwater Land Restoration Plan is based on the 1880s military-industrial water complex which captured every drop of Coldwater and piped it to Fort Snelling. The most troubling part of the plan is that 9,000-years of Native history is ignored.

We Coldwater supporters feel sidelined so all we can do is kvetch. We want to be cheerleaders for the water, the trees, the land and the future.

To: Paul Labovitz, Superintendent
John Anfinson, Chief of Resource Management
Alan Robbins-Fenger, Land Use and Planning Specialist
National Park Service (NSP/MNRRA)
Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

From: Susu Jeffrey and Sue Ann Martinson
for Friends of Coldwater

Re: Process: Coldwater Land Restoration Plan

Friends of Coldwater would like to suggest a process with stakeholders whereby community and National Park Service representatives could meet face-to-face to discuss updates and get feedback on Coldwater Land Restoration plans.

The years-long Hwy 55 controversy has been the subject of case studies for public employees taught by former Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton at the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice at the Humphrey Institute where Susu was a panel member several times. Belton urged her professional "students" to get the stakeholders together as the most efficient public policy.

We would like to have a process of inclusion to ensure a community-supported restoration at Coldwater.

Cc: Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton
Rep. Jean Wagenius
Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition
Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community
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Tuesday, 6.07.11
The Great Willow is Saved!
Letter to the National Park Service

To: Paul Labovitz, Superintendent; John Anfinson, Chief of Resource Management; and Alan Robbins-Fenger, Land Use and Planning Specialist
National Park Service (NSP/MNRRA) Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
From: Susu Jeffrey
for Friends of Coldwater
Friends of Coldwater still asks NPS to publish a specific rendering of the Coldwater Land Restoration plan for the greater reservoir and Spring House area. When would the Spring House roof be replaced? Springs love shade.

We are very concerned about the dearth of trees on the pastel drawing of restoration plans (5/17)—including the great willow, the Spirit Tree trunk, sumacs surrounding the reservoir, cottonwoods in the former volleyball court, indigenous Manitoba maples (aka box elders) and the non-invasive evergreens planted by the Bureau of Mines around various buildings.

Today we heard that some of those plans have changed (from a reply sent out by John Anfinson). The great willow stays! Some box elder and cottonwoods stay. No mention of the Spirit Tree, sumacs, and all the pines would be destroyed.

Our group and other citizen groups have asked for a green screen between the highways and Coldwater Park based on the pines planted at the former Bureau of Mines property line, many of which still exist. Coldwater supporters envisioned a green border to absorb noise and pollution, mitigate winds and provide wildlife habitat. We wonder if a planned prairie fire schedule can be maintained below an airport runway zone and adjacent to highways 55 and 62.

Earlier we were told the Coldwater savanna would include only oaks. Now it is called a mixed-hardwood savanna—a hybrid. Great! Sounds much more realistic.

We also ask for a description and timetable for mixed savanna prairie restoration plans. We were delighted to see Dowling public school children engaged in prairie restoration planting on June 3. We appreciate the time-consuming outreach partner programs MNRRA is engaged in.

A caution we have not previously addressed is the deer crossing over Hwy 55 at about where the Coldwater entrance gate is now. After repeated deer/car crashes and that horrible deer/motorcycle accident, raccoon remains, and very late night coyote crossing reports—we think it's a traditional wildlife crossing to Coldwater Spring, their water source. Perhaps the state could erect deer crossing caution signs since prevention is cheaper and Hwy 55 is a state road.

And finally we ask for time to allow for citizen comment after specific plans have been published and before bids are finalized.

Let us plan together. Some of us have been working to save this endangered Mississippi blufftop habitat since the early 1990s. We have been in thousands of hours of meetings, surveilled by the FBI, called terrorists, beaten-up, arrested, jailed, and wasted innumerable hours in federal, state and county courts. Now we are called history buffs, spiritual activists, eco-heroes, preservationists—standing here together above the Mississippi overlooking the only true river gorge on the entire 2,350-mile length of Big River.
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Thursday, 5.17.11
Coldwater Land Restoration Plan Explained

(Coldwater Park) People oo-ed and ah-ed over the pastel Coldwater land plan that John Anfinson presented at the May Full Moon Walk. Truly, it is a lovely vision but none of us will live to see it.

No tree currently near the Spring made it into the plan. No great willow, no charred Spirit Tree trunk, no sumac bushes, no Manitoba maple, no cottonwoods clustered in the volley ball rectangle, no evergreens. The plan showed a canopy of slow-growing oaks in a grove just southwest and uphill from the reservoir where buildings now exist. That was the extent of trees—one grove, of white oaks, and a few scattered outliers.

Consider the density of burr oaks in Minnehaha Park. Consider the Coldwater Spring area denuded of all trees with future plans to plant toothpick oaks in "the next funding cycle" several years from now. And not the original native burr oaks, but white oaks which are resistant to oak wilt.

Friends of Coldwater would like to see a transition. Let the existing trees die in place while oaks get planted and begin to grow—rather than an immediate final solution. Since the Coldwater campus is very close to bedrock, erosion is a problem, especially with the epidemic of buckthorn and garlic mustard that shade out indigenous soil-holding plants. Even with the exotic-invasive specialist teams returning to cut and spray, buckthorn and garlic mustard will continue to proliferate until nature has time to develop a check to these out-of-control green pests.

John Anfinson, Chief of Resource Management for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA) under the National Park Service, is the planner/coordinator for Coldwater land restoration. Anfinson holds a doctorate in history specializing in the Indian-white upper Midwest transition period.

The "Coldwater Unit" land restoration plan is based on 1880s photographs and documents when the Spring House and limestone reservoir were constructed to pipe water to Fort Snelling. However instead of a pumphouse, water tower and engineers quarters, MNRRA intends to return the Coldwater environs to oak and short grass prairie savanna, and to daylight Coldwater Creek.

A flutter of appreciation ran through the audience when Anfinson explained "daylighting" the creek. "Get rid of the road, get rid of the pipe" and let the water spill down the bluff. That spill would begin at the lip of the reservoir eliminating the great willow tree where the plunge down to the Mississippi would begin.

Land on the east side of the pond would be bulldozed into a constant downward grade rather than the level road and steep slope that was constructed for access to the old Bureau of Mines warehouses at the far (south) end of the property. Where the asphalt road in front of the reservoir now exists, will be 10-foot drop with Coldwater Creek running below a foot bridge.

The reason none of us will live to see the plan realized is because oaks are very slow-growing. The "Four Sacred (burr oak) Trees" were 137-years old according to federal court testimony in 1999, meaning they were planted in 1862, the year of the Dakota-U.S. war. We are not yet even planting toothpick white oaks while extremists in Congress talk about defunding-disappearing-killing the National Park Service.

The loss of the National Park Service would mean some American landmarks would go up for sale—"be privatized." Coldwater is safe from condo etc. development because it is an airport crash zone (no kidding). Federal airport rules however forbid tree planting below the flight path over the Spring so the proposed burr oak grove could be nixed.

The oak savanna habitat is "practically extinct," "rare," "listed as globally imperiled." What a grand undertaking to return this 27-acre plot to indigenous vegetation especially during the climate change yo-yo weather we've experienced lately. And to maintain the thin soil atop the Mississippi gorge, Friends of Coldwater argues for the natural death of existing trees during the years-long transition—rather than a clear-cut park with no place for bird's nests.

—Susu Jeffrey
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Sunday, 3.13.11

(Coldwater Park) The National Park Service has announced plans for land restoration work around Coldwater Spring and reservoir. A $3-million request is in the upcoming federal budget and is expected to pass.

--Get rid of the buildings and roads.
This should be done when the land is frozen for the least amount of land damage.
--Daylight the creek by removing the culvert and pipe where Coldwater empties out of the reservoir and begins its plummet to the Mississippi. (Note: This work is an “option” since the $3-million is a lowball figure for Coldwater transition plans.)
--Digging a diversion “ditch” parallel to the south end of the reservoir.
The idea is to preserve the reservoir wall and to prevent further erosion. The ditch would carry away most waters except the main flow at the Spring House. Groundwater burbles up from underneath the big warehouse and forms a creeklet behind the warehouse. This spring water currently helps fill Coldwater reservoir. Less flow into the reservoir would encourage algae growth earlier in warm months and more ice in cold months.
--Extensive re-contouring of the land based on post-European settlement watercolors and historic photographs.
The 1880 Coldwater photographs show terraced steps of land around the reservoir, and pavement rather than vegetation to stay erosion.
The great willow tree, the only tree left around the reservoir, would be damaged by plans to remove earth from the north, east and south sides of the reservoir.
--Vegetation (not specified in announced Coldwater plans)
Terracing and pavement did not hold back erosion. Roots hold soil in place.
--Prairie grasses and reforestation
The earliest watercolors of the area show grassy prairie ending with trees growing in all the ravines where creeks cut paths down to the Mississippi. Coldwater would have supported indigenous cottonwood trees (like the little clump that sprouted out of what was a volleyball court during Bureau of Mines days).
The north end of the Coldwater property includes a grove of burr oaks which historically would have continued along the prairie’s edge.
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February 2011
Dred Scott in Minnesota

(Coldwater Park) In the Dred Scott decision, Minnesota played a part in the cultural battle against slavery in the United States. Like the war on terrorism and "just war" debates raging now, the great slave debate divided the nation, divided families, and was as much about finances as ethics.

In 1857, on March 6, Dred Scott was found to be "not a person." This finding by the Supreme Court of the United States was boo-ed and ridiculed inside the country and abroad. Like the "illegal aliens" of today, the "enemy combatants" and the extradited and disappeared, slaves had no legal standing.

Dred Scott, a slave, sued for his freedom in 1846. After an eleven year court battle Scott, Harriet, his wife and mother of their daughters, Eliza and Lizzie, lost their freedom case. The high court found that Scott was ineligible to bring his case for freedom from slavery into the federal court system. Dred Scott, 62, was found to be a slave, "not a person," and therefore had no personhood rights in the federal courts.

Now corporations are considered "persons" under the law.

Between 1836-40 Dred Scott lived at Fort Snelling, in the Wisconsin Territory, a "free territory" where slavery was prohibited. He had lived at Fort Armstrong in the free state of Illinois with his master, Army surgeon Dr. John Emerson, from 1833-35. Dred Scott's famous suit for freedom was based on his residency in the free territory now called Minnesota and in the free state of Illinois.

cott was born in Virginia, 1795, a slave child to the Blow family, named Sam. The family and slaves moved west settling in St. Louis, Missouri. He changed his name after his first wife was sold "down the river." He ran away as Sam and returned as Dred Scott, caught and beaten by a gang of young thugs who returned the slave to his master for the reward money.

Scott met and married his wife, Harriet Robinson, at Fort Snelling. Their wedding was performed by Indian agent Lawrence Taliaferro. (It was illegal for blacks to marry.)

The Scott case was initiated in 1846, six-months after Dr. Emerson's widow refused to permit Scott to purchase his emancipation. Scott lost a first trial on a technicality, won his freedom on retrial, and lost in the Missouri Supreme Court. It was a contrary opinion because Missouri courts had consistently ruled that slaves taken into free states were automatically free. The case was maneuvered from state to federal court by anti-slavery interests looking for a definitive legal blow to the institution of slavery.

On January 1, 1853 in St. Louis, the family's deranged master ordered Dred Scott, his wife Harriet and their two daughters into a barn where he forced the adults to strip and whipped them with a horse whip for "being worthless and insolent." Sanford then spanked the girls Eliza, 13, and Lizzie, 7, and locked the family inside the barn. In the 1850s slaves were quietly freed if outrageous abuse became public knowledge.

This blindness allowed the institution of slavery to continue while rooting out "a few bad apples." A few bad apples among the Abu Ghraib guards were rooted out but prisoner terrorism continues. Apparently torturing people is also devastating to the bad apples. Owning people, torturing people—it's enough to make you crazy.

The Dred Scott family lost their 11-year battle for freedom in the "most unpopular Supreme Court decision in the (then) 70-year history of the court." Into the rising fire of abolitionist sentiment in Scott v. Sandford (1846-57), the high court declared Dred Scott to be ineligible to file a suit in federal court because he was a slave, that is property, and "not a person." The Scott decision ruled that blacks, whether slave or free "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

The Scott case legalized inequality, and laid the groundwork for "separate but equal" racial discrimination throughout the nation. The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and of Muslims during the so-called "war on terrorism," like the reservation restrictions for Native Americans, illustrate the breath of racist mentality, America's "original sin."

After the Supreme Court decision Dred Scott's original masters, the Blow family, purchased and freed the Scotts. Dred, Harriet, and Eliza (aged 17) soon died of tuberculosis.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853), published a two-volume novel about runaway slaves, Dred, in 1856 (the year before the Scott Supreme Court decision). One of the principal conspirators in Nat Turner’s Rebellion, Southampton County, Virginia 1831, was named Dred “a name not unusual among the slaves and generally given to those of great physical force.” Dred Scott, short, slight and tubercular, was a powerhouse.

—Susu Jeffrey.
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Tuesday, 01.18.11
NO MORE Cleared Roadway to the Spring

(Coldwater Park) The National Park Service announced there will be NO MORE snow removal on the roadway from the gate down to Coldwater Spring this winter.

1) Coldwater is an historic or sacred site (depending on your point of view). Let us act respectfully and not with anger or retribution.

2) Do you know anyone with a plow on the front of their 4-wheel drive truck?

3) What about the handicapped-accessibility issue?

4) Cutting off all access to the Spring is an extremely problematic situation and led to citizen resistance and federal court action. Let's work it out.

Water is universally considered nature's "first medicine." Coldwater water is considered medicine for the soul, and also for hurting bodies. Perhaps we could access the Spring from the upper road (to Building 11) during the de-construction period discussed (in Alan Robbins-Fenger’s National Park Service email) below.

Meanwhile people who are afraid their cars will not make it up from the Spring might park just before the left turn inside the park, leaving room for other cars to go in and out. The gate for (Alan's suggested) parking behind the library is often locked-closed.

5) Yesterday (Monday 1/17/11) I drove in and out. You might need a running start to make that sharp turn before the Main Building and to continue your up-hill acceleration. Don't stop—keep moving. 

6) We know that people will come to Coldwater. People will go through fences, through construction zones, people will enter at night, people will come to Coldwater regardless of attempts to close off access. Therefore we need to dialogue with the National Park Service (NPS) to work out continued access. Let's meet and talk together and then arrange a meeting with NPS officials. We've been here before and everybody learned from that conflict. Let’s start discussing continued, uninterrupted Coldwater access.

—Susu for Friends of Coldwater

To: Friends of Coldwater
Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snow plowing—we (MNRRA [the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area under the National Park Service]) have not been plowing the roadways this winter. The plowing that did occur was done by a contractor who the Minnesota DNR contracted with for snow removal for last winter 2009-2010 since they were storing equipment in the buildings on the far end of the property.
The contractor erroneously thought he had a contract with the DNR to plow for the 2010-2011 winter. He did not (confirmed by DNR Facility Management). The DNR has since contacted the contractor [to say] that he has no contract and therefore cannot be paid for services.
Prior to the 2009-2010 winter, the [U.S.] Fish and Wildlife were using the buildings for storage as well as the [state] DNR and others, so Fish and Wildlife may have likely arranged to have plowing to maintain access.
For this winter, the Minnesota Veterans Home contractor is plowing behind building 1; feel free to park there.
Since (hopefully provided Congress passes a FY11 budget) we will be demolishing buildings in the Fall 2011, site access may be limited to walk-in through specially designated routes or may need to be closed temporarily for short periods of time to provide for contractor access and visitor safety. Therefore we will be acting on your permit request [for 2011 Full Moon Walks] only for the period through June 30, 2011.
This does not mean we will not issue permits after June 30, only that we will be looking at permit issuance for the remainder of 2011 with a close eye on the construction schedule. July and August permits may need to be issued on a monthly basis. September thru December permits will need to be issued based on the type and location of construction activity that is on-going and the use that is requested. There may be times during this period and into 2012 when we will not be able to accommodate special use permit requests due to construction, visitor safety and/or resource protection requirements and needs.
Regarding building demolition/restoration, we are in the process of finalizing some basic construction cost estimates and getting approval from the Washington NPS office to proceed. This will likely occur over the next 4-5 weeks, after which we will be in contact (likely thru email updates/MNRRA website) with you and others as to what and how the project will more fully take shape.
The current request in the President's NPS budget is for $3 million. This request will likely cover demolition of most or all of the buildings and restoration of the Coldwater Creek (i.e. remove the culvert under the road) but not as much of the landscape restoration as originally planned for in this phase of construction. Future budget requests will likely be made.
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