Bemidji Area Recreation

The Laurentian or Northern Continental Divide
Minnesota's waters flow in three directions.
The water flow is dependent upon which watershed the water is in. Depending on the lie of the continental divides, Minnesota waters flow either to Hudson Bay, the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean.

In September of 1823, Count Beltrami, an Italian explorer, landed on the south shore of Lake Julia, near Bemidji, Minnesota. He thought he had discovered the source of the Mississippi River. Count Beltrami named Lake Julia after an Italian court favorite.

Actually, the waters of Lake Julia flow into the Mud River, which flows into Lower Red Lake. From there, the water flows into the Red Lake River, then to the Red River flowing north. The water eventually flows into Hudson Bay, 1,900 miles away from the Northern Continental Divide located here. Called the "Top of the World", elevation of 1,400 feet above sea level, where the waters a few feet apart flow north to Hudson Bay and south, 3,200 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.

This spot was one of the first European settlements in this section, with the first county fair held there in 1904. It is also the location of a portion of the Leech Lake/Red Lake Trail, the major route of travel at that time.

Long and Peterson Lakes flow into Little Turtle Lake. Water from Little Turtle Lake runs into Big Turtle, Movil, Fox, Three Island  to Turtle River Lake, Turtle River, Rice and Kitchie Lakes to Cass Lake to reach the Mississippi River.

Some people dispute the theory that the Mississippi River source is at Itasca State Park. They claim the source to be from Lake Julia at the Continental Divide, 15 miles north of Bemidji, Minnesota.

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