This earthcache is located at Mohawk Park along the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Ellis Park is across the river where ski shows and dragon boat races are often held! No parking sticker is required.
Iowa has been under water in one form or another for much of its history. Ancient seas covered Iowa millions of years ago, and when those receded, frozen water, in the form of mile thick glaciers, crept across parts of Iowa at least four different times. When the climate warmed, the glaciers melted and enormous amounts of water cut river valleys. The last advance and melting of the glaciers was about 10,000 years ago, leaving behind the rivers and streams we see today.
The Cedar River is one of these rivers with a length of 388 miles. It takes its name from the red cedar trees that were growing along its banks and was originally called the Red Cedar River by the Meskwaki tribe. The Cedar River starts northeast of Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, and ends in the town of Columbus Junction, Iowa where it joins the Iowa River and eventually empties into the Mississippi. The surrounding region of the Cedar River is known officially as the Cedar River Valley or more commonly, the Cedar Valley.
At this spot in the Cedar Valley, you can see the surrounding hills and bluffs to the north and south. Thousands of years ago, these represented the original shoreline of an ancient glacial river! The composition of the ground under your feet is primarily sand which in part, was deposited here by the original river as it slowly receded.
As a point of unique interest, the boathouse neighborhood you can see across the river from here is the only one of its kind left on an Iowa River, since boathouse neighborhoods are no longer permissible. Dredging and development of the harbor began in 1957 and was completed in 1962. It thrived for many years and then was almost completely destroyed in June of 2008 during Cedar Rapid’s epic 1000 year flood. The floodwaters reached historic highs, cresting at 31.2 feet. The prior record had been 20 feet. Boathouses were carried downstream, were washed ashore, and got caught on a railroad bridge several miles away. After the flood, the harbor community worked hard to restore the boat harbor community and had to lobby for legislation in 2010 to allow the harbor to remain with rules that would strike a compromise with the DNR’s stringent rules that claimed boathouses to be illegal. Today, the harbor is well on its way to full recovery.
To get credit for this earthcache, email to me the answers to the following questions. In high water, answer the questions as close to gz as possible: :
- Look at the bluffs behind you to the north and at the hills across the river to the south. If these represented the original top of the shoreline of the original ancient river, estimate how wide the river was at that time.
<2.>Estimate how far across the river is today.
<3.>Besides the river current of today, how did some of the sandy soil beneath your feet get here?
<4.>What is the altitude at this spot?