A View From The Lake

This article submitted by Linda Lorentzen on 07/29/97.

Over the years the level of water in Lake Koronis has varied. I can remember in 1986 the lake level was so high that our dock and boat drifted away from the shore. My mother received a phone call from the Paynesville police saying that the boat and dock had been found in the west end bay. Two good Samaritans saved the day by helping my dad disassemble and load the dock on a trailer. That same summer (the summer we didnít have a boat lift) the water rose again after a torrential downpour. Filled with water the boatís stern stuck up out of the lake and one good wind flipped it upside down. My husband and dad had to fight with the boat while I stood on shore with a line draped around a tree, trying to provide additional strength to right the boat. The reason I remember the date so vividly was that I was eight months pregnant and feeling like I was not much assistance.

At the July Lake Koronis Association meeting several people commented on this yearís high level of water in the lake. One person referred to the ďyo-yoĒ effect of the water. Within one summer season the lake can go up and down several inches with heavy rains. Many factors control the level of water: the winter snows, the spring and summer rains, and some man-made contributions in terms of ditches that were dug in the early 1900s.

The opening of bids for the construction of the largest drainage ditch in the state occurred in July 1908. County Auditor Clever reported that the ditch would be fifty-five miles long, twenty-two feet wide, seven feet deep, and drain the towns of Lake George, North Fork, and Raymond in Stearns County and two towns in Pope County. The ditch emptied into the Crow River and at the time no one knew what would happen to the river.

Again in 1914 the level of water in Lake Koronis was high. Water poured into the inlet several times faster than could escape from the outlet. The roads located near the shoreline were covered with the expanding lake.

ďNearly 100 Miles of Ditches Feed Crow in Stearns County. Koronis Outlet Should Be Enlarged,Ē read the headline in The Paynesville Press on June 15, 1916. The Crow River had been rampant through the spring and summer and the lake level was high, water covering the sandy beaches. ďThis state of high water is laid to two things, the large number of ditches that have been dug and are feeding the Crow, and the inefficiency of the outlet to carry off the supply of water.Ē F. G. Bradley, a civil engineer in St. Cloud, answered a letter from Dr. Pilon and accounted for 95 miles of ditches which fed the Crow River. ďThey are namely, Pope-Stearns Judicial Ditch, 30 miles; Skunk River, eight miles; ditch 32, 28 miles; and ditches 36, 37, and 38, which are being built this season and will be completed within the coming year.Ē The suggestion arose again to counter the large number of ditches feeding the Crow by digging at the outlet.Ē

By November 1916 the lake level had dropped and protests were heard against taking any action of lowering the lake. ďIt seems the only feasible plan would be to build a dam at the outlet, high enough to take care of the large amount of water that is bound to come into the lake at times in the future.Ē The next summer the lake was four to five feet lower than normal. One proposed scheme involved ďthe dumping of rock, of which there are plenty, at or near the bridge.Ē

Indeed, in 1918 the water in the lake was lower than it had been for several years. ďThe digging of the ditch near the outlet and the water washing away the sand at the outlet lowered the water considerably last summer.Ē Reported in the May 23, 1918 edition of The Press a number of people went to the outlet of Koronis and ďwith the help of a couple of teams, and a number of outboard motor boats, a goodly quantity of rock, brush, etc. found its way into the channel. This will help to prevent the deepening of the channel at this point, and is something, we believe, that should have been done before. We understand that some of the good sports from Litchfield will be on hand this coming Saturday to strengthen the dam some more.Ē

And so the ďyo-yoĒ effect of the waters of Lake Koronis began. To our present day the situation has not been solved, but we are all aware that whatever has been done in the past, combined with our efforts in the present directly affect our view from the lake.

Information for this column was taken from the following issues of The Paynesville Press : July 9, 1908; July 2, 1914; June 15, 1916; Nov. 16, 1916; April 18, 1918; and May 23, 1918.

Return to Archives