MURRAY COUNTY - The End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum in Currie looks like an island because of heavy rain during the last few days, and Murray County Road 38 is closed and underwater north of town.
"The entire south side of the park is underwater," said museum curator Anita Gaul. "Someone said they saw carp jumping out there earlier."
The headwaters of the Des Moines River are less than a mile west of the park at the Currie Dam, where the river is flowing backward into Lake Shetek. Beaver Creek also meets up with the river just past the dam, and now water is overwhelming the north side of Currie.
Photos by Anna Haecherl-Smith
Clockwise from left: Maintenance crews removed sticks and debris pushing on the porch of the nearly-flooded general store at the End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum in Currie Tuesday afternoon.
A bridge that usually brings golfers across Beaver Creek to the seventh hole of the Slayton Country Club could now be used to launch a boat at the flooded golf course.
A few people braved the water and drove on Murray County Road 38 north of Currie while it was underwater Tuesday afternoon because of flooding from the nearby Des Moines River.
Water from the Beaver Creek watershed is overwhelming the Des Moines River, causing the river to flow backward and over the Currie Dam into Lake Shetek.
"So far, no museum buildings are underwater," said Gaul, "but we think the water is going to get higher, so we are starting to sandbag."
The floodwater is just starting to lap up beside some buildings near the entrance of the park, but at the back of the museum grounds, the general store and grist mill are on the brink of being inundated with water. Museum staff have been monitoring and checking the buildings every hour for signs of flooding inside.
"There's no water in those buildings yet," Gaul said, "but the parks department helped us elevate display cases and artifacts in the buildings. We fear the water will keep rising."
Workers from the Murray County Parks Department and maintenance crews from the court house and human services buildings arrived Tuesday afternoon to help place sandbags around the museum's visitor center and gift shop building.
"We are expecting it to rise more," said Murray County Museum coordinator Janet Timmerman. "It's all coming from the Coteau Ridge and the Beaver Creek watershed. They had between five and seven inches of rain west of here on Saturday up on the ridge and a lot of ditches are flowing into Beaver Creek and then into the Des Moines river."
The End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum will be closed until further notice and until the flood waters recede.
"We're only doing preventative work right now because there is no water inside the buildings yet," Gaul said. "We're just hoping for no more rain."
Southwest of Currie, the Slayton County Club is also closed until further notice, except for social hours at the clubhouse Tuesday and Wednesday nights, because of flooding issues with Beaver Creek, which runs through the course.
"This is the worst it has ever been," said Sherry Robinson, clubhouse manager. "Seven is completely flooded, most of six is, eight is totally underwater, most of two... Basically, two-thirds of our golf course is underwater."
Through the windows of the club house, Robinson can see the tee boxes for the flooded holes. If anyone were to play them, their ball would surely to end up in multiple feet of water.
"Our irrigation pump house has a six-foot fence around it, and that is completely underwater," Robinson said.
The Slayton Country Club approximates it will be able to open again in three weeks, but the wait could be longer. Robinson said there won't be any golf soon, but the clubhouse will be open for men's and ladies' nights for people who still want to meet at the course.
Ryan Doorenbos, area fisheries supervisor with the Minnesota DNR in Windom, has been keeping an eye on rising water levels in southwestern Minnesota.
"In the last few years, when we get precipitation, it comes in these massive rain events," Doorenbos said. "It seems like we're dealing with extremes all the time, whether it's a moderate drought or a catastrophic flooding situation."
Portions of southwestern Minnesota were still in a moderate drought up until last week. Those worries will likely be long forgotten until the water recedes in our area of the state.
Concerning the back-flow into Lake Shetek, Doorenbos said that they have seen this before on Shetek and they start worry when water levels remain hight.
"The longer timeframe you have high water levels on a lake, the more flooding and erosion issues we'll see on banks," Doorenbos said.
As for when the flood waters will dissipate, Doorenbos said he wished he had "a crystal ball."
"With this last event, when you get 7-plus inches of rain and the entire southwest part of the state is inundated with so much precipitation in such a short timeframe, the water can only go away so fast," he said.