Draining the Great Oasis: An Environmental History of Murray County, Minnesota
Edited by Anthony J. Amato, Janet Timmerman, and Joseph A. Amato

Draining the Great Oasis is a collection of essays on the environmental history of Murray County, Minnesota. Located on the tall grass prairie of southwestern Minnesota, Murray County is a land of contrasts. It is composed of floodplains, river valleys, wetlands, and uplands formed by glaciation. With wet and dry seasons and cycles, climatic extremes characterize it. In the last hundred and fifty years this land has been bent and shaped to serve commercial agriculture and an industrial nation. In twenty unique essays, fifteen authors from different disciplines and perspectives examine this transformation. They probe the multifaceted relationship between human beings and their environment, examining topics ranging from weed control and horse ecology to wetlands and recreational landscapes.


These essays include:

1. A Wet and Dry Landscape - by Anthony Amato
2. Crops and Land Use - by Geoff Cunfer
3. Geology - by Thomas Dilley
4. Soils - by Neal Eash
5. Wetlands - by Doug Spieles
6. Mammals - by Elizabeth Desy
7. Birds - by Janet Timmerman
8. Birding - by Robert Janssen
9. Native Prairie - by Janet Timmerman
10. Lake Shetek - by Beth Spieles
11. Draining the Great Oasis - by Janet Timmerman
12. Ditches - by Geoff Cunfer and Dennis Guse
13. Roads - by Joseph Amato
14. Horse Ecology - by Geoff Cunfer
15. Barns - by David Pichaske
16. Weeds - by Nancy Brown
17. Hogville - by Lisa Gerber
18. Crazy Acres - by Richard Vanderziel
19. A Home Lake - by Jim Muchlinski
20. Bibliographic Essay and Annotated Bibliography - by Beth Spieles

Like other new environmental microhistories, Draining the Great Oasis captures the nuances and detail of a specific place, while addressing the broader experiences of southwestern Minnesota and other North American prairie regions where great ecological transformations have accompanied large-scale agriculture. Draining the Great Oasis offers new themes and approaches that will stimulate both environmental and local history.

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Last updated: February 1, 2006