Further information on Spring 2020 Courses


Larry Richie: History of the Straight River


Course text

Reading material will be provided by the instructor at no cost. Transportation for the tour in the fourth class session will be provided by a means appropriate to the size of the class.

Schedule of topics (subject to modification)

  1. What These Stone Tools Tell Us About the People Who Made Them.

This will be a presentation on fifty stone tools found in or along a ½ mile stretch of the Straight River. The selection of stone, importance of design and quality of the workmanship of these tools gives us an insight into the lives of the people who made them.

  1. Bison Bones Between East and West Prairie

Over 300 bison bones (from 7 different bison) have been found in and along a small stream that flows into the Straight River 4 miles up the river from where the stone tools were found. At the site where the bison died, 2 stone tools were found that are very similar to stone tools on the Straight River. Our best evidence indicates the people were impaling the animals with spears concealed in the grass as they moved between east and west prairie. Some of these bison bones (with butcher marks) have been carbon dated at about 470 B.C.

  1. How the Glaciers Shaped Rice County

The Rice County we see today was largely shaped by the glaciers. The lakes and rivers, hills and valleys, fertile farmland and gravel outcrops are all a product of the many glaciers which have passed over the area. We will consider what the glaciers took away and what they left behind. Long before the glaciers, the land was under a shallow warm ocean. The lasting effects of the ocean will be considered.

  1. A Tour Along 6 Miles of the Straight River

We will walk across the floor of the ocean, observe a glacial valley, feel the breezes on West Prairie and journey over to East Prairie (stopping at the site where the bison were killed). (Some of the walking on this trip will be over uneven ground. Persons unable to manage such walking should not plan to take part.)

5 & 6. A look at the Dakota Indians who lived on the Straight River and the early years of the life of Alexander Faribault. We will examine his trading records and share his hunting stories.