National Geographic : 1897 Apr
AREA AND DRAINAGE BASIN OF LAKE SUPERIOR 117 lacustrine region of Rainy lake, from which it is separated toward the east by the Iron or Mesabi range. Elsewhere its separation from this region, and in the west and south from the basin of the upper Mississippi, is low and ill-defined, character ized by the presence of lakes, ponds, and swamps. Its source is in Otter lake, 30 miles from the northwest shore of Lake Supe rior and 1,650 feet above sea-level, or 1,050 feet above the lake surface. It flows southwest until about 25 miles from the Missis sippi river, when it turns sharply southeast, soon descends nearly all its 1,050 feet of fall, and enters Lake Superior through a long estuary. Its minimum flow of water is nil, for it is sometimes frozen solid. Its average contribution to the lake is estimated by Greenleaf* at 1,242 cubic feet per second, but it is probably considerably larger. The rapids are at the Dalles, below the mouth of its tributary, the Cloquet, and but a few miles above Duluth. The presence of a considerable stream with a large fall within a short distance of two such prosperous towns as Superior and Duluth, has suggested to enterprisng engineers the scheme of damming the St Louis above the Dalles and bringing its waters to these cities under a head of 650 feet, as an enormous source of cheap power. Ex-Representative M. R. Baldwin, of that Congressional district, makes the following report on this plan: " This company has discovered that by putting a dam just above Cloquet it can make a reservoir which will not only be the largest in the world, but will lie entirely within the bluffs of the natural streams; that from the level to which the river will be raised by the proposed dam the water can be taken in a straight line through a canal or pipe, only twelve miles long, to the bluffs back of Duluth, at an elevation of 650 feet above Lake Superior, and that by the storage in this great reservoir of the flood waters, which now go to waste, a supply of water will be available for use under that head, which will create the greatest water-power in the world." One curious difficulty is found in the fact that if the dam is made too high the reservoir will empty into the Mississippi river and thus contribute to the water-power of Minneapolis instead of to that of Duluth. Reference has been made to the estuary at the mouth of the St Louis. This has so many features of interest that it deserves a fuller treatment than space will here permit. Suffice it to say, that Lake Superior has been robbed of the extremity of her horn by the combined action of the water of the river and the waves of the * Report on the Water-Power of the Northwest; Census of 1880, vol. xvii, p. 73.