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The Crow River Watershed

The divide separating the watersheds of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers runs in a north‑south direction through the center of Kandiyohi County. Precipitation falling west of this divide runs into the Minnesota River by way of the Hawk and Shakopee Creek drainages. Runoff from the precipitation falling east of this divide flows into the Crow River drainage. Kandiyohi County can be thought of as being on the ridge of a pitched roof, sending its water in every direction. As a result, most of the surface water existing in the county is derived from runoff from its land rather than outside the county. Green Lake is in the Crow River­Mississippi River drainage but one has only to travel a few miles west of the lake to cross the divide into the Hawk Creek‑Minnesota River drainage.

The Crow River

According to the Illustrated History of Kandiyohi County:

"The Crow River, which the Sioux called 'Karishon' and the Chippewas 'Undeq'...was too small even at its confluence with the Mississippi to attract more than a passing attention of the early fur traders and voyageurs. Carver referred to this stream as Goose River. Pike is credited with having first given it its name, Crow.

"The name Kandiyohi was first made known to white men by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, who in 1836‑41 explored the region now comprising Minnesota, northern Iowa and eastern Dakota. His map published in 1842, located Kandiyohi lake as the source of the south fork of the Crow River. He also quite accurately traces the north fork of the Crow, but omits the middle fork, Green Lake and the other lakes on the northern part of our county."

The Crow River has two major tributaries, the South Fork that originates near Willmar and the North Fork that originates near Sedan in Pope County. Both flow in a southeasterly direction, join together at Rockford and from there flow northeasterly into the Mississippi River near Dayton.

The Middle Fork of the Crow River is a tributary of the North Fork and originates just north of the county line near Belgrade in Steams County. It flows south into Monongalia (Mud) Lake, the Mill Pond formed by the New London dam in 1862, and from there into Nest Lake, which was enlarged by the dam built at the inlet into Green Lake in 1867. Green and Calhoun Lakes are held at the same level by dams constructed near the outlet of Lake Calhoun in 1937. From these dams the Crow River flows east to join the North Fork near the village of Manannah.

The Crow River and the chain of lakes which forms its headwaters were of considerable importance to the original inhab­itants. They depended on them for a source of food and lived in close proximity to the water for undoubtedly many of the same reasons as many of the early settlers and their descendants do today.