Great Oasis Presentation

Janet Timmerman-In Murray County Minnesota, a now extinct lake was formed during the last great Ice Age. It is called Lake Great Oasis and is now entirely dry, but in prehistoric times a village was located along its shoreline. The people who had lived there vanished from the area more than 600 years ago. They were first studied in the 1940's and have ever since been called "The Great Oasis" people.

There in northwest Murray County, north of Hadley, was one of the great wildlife areas of the northwest. It was surrounded by 6,000 acres making up Bear, Rush, Crooked, and Great Oasis Lakes and thousands of acres of prairie. It was said to be the largest wooded area between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and had been protected from the gigantic prairie fires that historically swept across southwest Minnesota (generally from southwest to northeast).

The area boasted large stands of mature oak, elm, ash, linden, hackberry, willow, ironwood, and cottonwood and a carpet of ferns and wildflowers. An extra bonus was an abundance of wild plum, grapes, raspberries, gooseberries, currants, elderberry, and chokecherry.

Accounts from 1934 from three lifelong residents of the area spoke of songbirds, quail, prairie chicken, duck and geese in the millions, heron, bittern, and hundreds of varieties of shorebirds, including willit, rails, and curlews. They refer to the yearly return and nesting of the sandhill cranes and the wide assortment of furbearing animals. The depositions both refer to professors from the University of Minnesota and South Dakota State that came yearly to study rare specimens not found elsewhere.

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Sponsored by CRRS and Beaver Creek Watershed Improvement Program

Questions or concerns may be directed to CRRS or the Murray County Water Resources Department at 507-836-6148 extension #156.

Science and Technology 203
Southwest Minnesota State University
1501 State Street Marshall, MN 56258
Phone: (507) 537-6226
Fax: (507) 537-6147

Last updated: March 21, 2006