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Reconnecting the Red River
(pg 1 of 5)

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In 1799, Alexander Henry explored huge portions of the Red River of the North while on a tour of duty as the head of Northwest Company's trading post at Pembina. What he found was a river surrounded by prairie, where buffalo were so numerous that he sometimes had difficulty seeing grass between them as he scanned from his lookout in a tall oak tree. Giant lake sturgeon were so abundant that the sound of them jumping often kept him awake at night. His men caught up to 120 fish per day, weighing up to 180 pounds each, in trap nets set across Red River tributaries as the fish began their spawning migrations.

"It appears that the entrance of this river is well frequented by Buffaloe, Red Deer, Moose, Deer, and Bears. And indeed it appears that the higher we go the more numerous the Red Deer and Bears are. On the beach Raccoons tracks are very plentiful. Wolves are very numerous and very insolent not shy in the least. About dark the canoes arrived.… They had again today found some shallow places and had trouble to find their passage amongst the lumps of Clay. They had seen a great number of sturgeon at those shallow places and had killed one with my axe, which made us a good supper. They had seen more Red Deer and Bears than yesterday. Raccoons and Wild Fowl plenty."

-Alexander Henry's Journal, entry dated Sept. 8th, 1800

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