Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oasis

Because it is flat and treeless, the Valley frequently gives the impression of a monotonous landscape, but to many it provides a view that cannot be equaled. Even those who are not amazed by the beauty of the flat land cannot avoid the feeling that this is a land of great wealth. When entering the area from any direction one feels not unlike a desert traveler coming to an oasis. The historian for the exploring party of Joseph N. Nicollett recorded his impressions and those of the advance scout upon their approach to the Valley from the west in 1841:
When we reached him, we found him in the most ecstatic contemplation before the vast and magnificent valley of the Red River...spreading itself in an almost insensible slope to the east, to the north, and to the south, and bounded only by the horizon. It is difficult to express by words the varied impressions which their [the prairie] spectacle produces. Their sight never wearies...In the summer season, especially, everything upon the prairies is cheerful, graceful, and animated. The Indians, with herds of deer, antelope, and buffalo, give life and motion to them. It is then they should be visited; and I pity the man whose soul could remain unmoved under such a scene of excitement.
Those who know the Red River Valley in its present state may have difficulty realizing that is once was a paradise of wild life. The early settlers depended very much upon these gifts of nature for their food supply as well as the yields from farming.