Minnesota River Interviews -John Fritsche

Minnesota River Interviews
John Fritsche
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In the 1997 flood, the river valley was completely full from here to across the highway. The river was two miles wide."


John Fritsche and Minnesota River
Minnesota River
Interview Transcript

Video Text: "[In the] 1997 flood where we are standing right now, we would be trying to get up, swim up to get here cause we would be standing in 7-8 feet of water. In the 1997 flood, the river valley was completely full from here to across to the highway. The river was two miles wide, with the river flowing this way. One year we didn’t get the manure out for fall out of the turkey barn. The flood came through and it broke the back door of the turkey barn loose and the barn was perfectly clean by the time the flood was done. The flood took every bit of the turkey manure and flowed it out [into the river]. Our neighbors got mad because it wound up in their land and then he had to smell it all summer.

Living here in the bottom, it’s a joy to be able to look out at the river and to look at everything and enjoy nature. That’s one reason that I like to be a river rat. I like living down here and that’s one of the reasons because I’ve got my nature and everything around me that I enjoy.

But right now, in a normal year, you have to go down here to get any flood water.  The area right here would be considered 800 feet above sea level would be right in through here would be 800 feet above sea level.  When it gets up to 803 to 804, then I start getting nervous because then the river itself will be up against my buildings.  When it starts getting against my buildings, I got about a $100,000 worth of cars and campers and stuff stored in my turkey barn over there and I want to get them out before the flood gets to them.  But, this would be a normal river, 800 to about 800-1/2 feet above sea level.  People always w

ondered why I don’t bring cattle back down.  My brother used to bring cattle down every year.  I’m getting to the point where we need some green grass to handle what the people put on their lawns to keep their lawns looking pretty.  We got to have some way to filter this fertilizer before it gets into the river. 

The river is a lot cleaner now than what it was ten to twenty years ago. You have to start cleaning the river somewhere, you got to start at the top.  You have to start where it begins, up at Browns Valley.  You have to start cleaning up everything between there and here before we can say we have a clean river here.  Because of all the stuff that comes out through the sewage systems and the personal septic tanks and stuff like that.  It all has to be cleaned up before you get down to here. You don’t have a perfectly good, pristine river until that is all taken care of.  So there is going to be many, many years of people doing things differently in order to get the river clean."



This page was last updated 8/08