The Source of Otter Creek?

A few months ago, I wrote about the importance of Otter Creek to the park. In that tidbit, it was stated that the creek’s source was in the swamp area southwest of Birch Lake. It was supposed to say the swamp area southeast of Birch Lake. But, by doing some further research and looking further into the archives at the Heritage Center in Buffalo, Minnesota, I have learned that this has not always been the case.

I located two maps; 1) An 1874 Andreas Atlas map; and 2) The Public Land Survey map of 1907. First, the 1874 map that shows three lakes – Bertram, Long and Mud as one. Otter Creek is shown running through all of the lakes as it does today, but it also shows something very different. Otter Creek is shown entering Bertram from the west but it then curves south, across 90th Street into North Cedar Lake and into Cedar Lake as its source.

Secondly, the 1907 Public Land Survey shows a similar pattern with one major exception – it shows Otter Creek coming into Bertram from the west but flowing through the swampy areas that exist today. It also shows the creek meandering from the south under 90th Street and coming from the Cedar Lake area. This map does not show roads but it is still easy to orient oneself.

So, the mystery continues ~ where exactly does Otter Creek begin?
• Has nature itself made changes?
• Have farmers and agriculture altered the land?
• Has technology in mapping improved?
• Are there other reasons?

Whatever the reason for the changes, we will always enjoy what we have.

1874 Map
1907 Map


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