Screenshot of the St. Cloud Times Newspaper
In 1938, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) decided to diverge the Long Prairie River to address issues that were both economic and community-driven. Long Prairie and Osakis are two small, rural, farming communities in Minnesota less than 30 minutes from one another. One community, Osakis, was supported through its tourist economy, while its sister community’s lifeblood was its farmers. A lake in and around the community of Osakis, Osakis Lake, and it was suffering to the point it was “nearly useless”, according to the newspapers written at the time (cited and pictured on this page). Lake Osakis was in desperate need of water levels that had depreciated to the point that tourism was being affected. People were no longer coming to fish on what was once an extremely popular fishing lake.. Anglers, local fishermen, depended on Lake Osakis, and it was also a popular resort lake, in 1938 was one of the highest fish producing lakes in the state. As the lack of tourists was hurting Osakis’ economy, engineers devised a plan to allow an overflow from a split in the Long Prairie River to run into Lake Osakis by a two mile long channel. WPA workers constructed a dam to induce the diversion. The project was sponsored by the state department of conservation. In 1939 Lake Osakis started to return to old levels, as healthy and popular as it was then. There are still many resorts on the lake, and thanks to the water conservation actions in 1938, they continue to be successful.
Presbyterians Join in Dedication to Children's Chapel, “22 Jan 1938, Page 3 - St. Cloud Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com,
(www.newspapers.com/image/224324266/?terms=%22long%2Bprairie%22%2Bwpa), accessed May 2020.
Osakis Dedicates Long Prairie River Diversion Project, “23 Sep 1939, Page 3 - St. Cloud Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com,
(www.newspapers.com/image/224034353/?terms=%22long%2Bprairie%22%2Bwpa), accessed May 2020.
“WPA Accomplishments.” Minnesota Works Progress Administration, 116, Google Play, Google,
44), accessed May 2020.
The WPA Guide to Minnesota. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002.
Project originally submitted by Lydia VanValkenburg on May 16, 2020.
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