It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when the Red and Red Lake Rivers weren't considered the community assets they are today. Frequent flooding, an unkept shoreline, and limited public access meant many residents saw the rivers as challenging adversaries.
That's certainly not the case in 2022!
What changed the perspective? Believe it or not, the rivers themselves brought the change we now take for granted. A record-breaking flood in 1997 provided the catalyst for massive changes for the Greater Grand Forks community and the Red and Red Lake Rivers.
You've probably heard the story - The winter of 1997- 1998 brought nine blizzards, brutally low temperatures, eight times the average snowfall, and an April ice storm combined to produce historic flooding throughout the Red River Valley. Hundreds of homes and businesses were flooded, and over 90% of Greater Grand Forks residents were evacuated. But from those dark days emerged a brighter future for both communities.
To ensure that Greater Grand Forks would be protected against future flooding, the US Army Corps of Engineers proposed constructing a permanent, continuous flood protection system, including a greenway, along the Red and Red Lake Rivers. This project required an unprecedented amount of cooperation between the public and private sectors and has served as a model for other communities rebuilding from natural disasters.
The Greenway is an award-winning facility that enhances and protects the Greater Grand Forks community. And this natural resource doesn't just hold floodwater; it also provides economic and recreational benefits to the community through recreational features and community events. Commercial development along the riverbank now focuses on the river's aesthetic value, and land once owned by both public and private entities is now open to the public.
The Greenway is a story of citizens and governments of all levels working together to protect and ultimately revitalize a community. Step back in time to remember life before The Greenway was built.
Memories of 1997
Changes to the landscape