17-Sep-2017 -- As I was in the area for the North Dakota GIS conference, and as the focus of the conference was the use of Geographic Information Systems in all sectors of society, and as my keynote address would touch on field data collection, mapping, and understanding the world, I thought that a confluence visit would be the most fitting way to start my days in the state. As I have done so many times, my first destination after leaving the airport grounds was a confluence point.
In this case, I flew to Bismarck North Dakota, on a day just a few days before the autumnal equinox, and set out to the east along Interstate Highway 94. My destination was 47 North 100 West, and I could not believe it had not been visited for 15 years. Why? Was there some great difficulty that I was not forseeing? After about an hour, I exited at the town of Steele and drove north on State Highway 3. I parked on the west side of the road along a section line "road" that was really just a trail, gathered supplies, and began my trek. There were closer roads to the confluence but I had in mind to approach from the east, which would, I thought, allow for some quality time on the prairie. I was not disappointed. I saw no one, and few animals; just a few birds, and some cattle off to the north. The road degraded into a pathway; I photographed some hay bales, and made a video at the functioning windmill that was drawing up water to an enclosure for the animals. After over an hour, my feet were getting a bit sore, and I had my work clothes on, but I pressed on. With about 1/2 mile to go, I left my due-westward-march and veered off to the northwest. I initially thought that the point would lie in one of the "prairie potholes" - ponds that are used by migrating birds and by local grazing animals, but I found it just about 100 feet northwest of the northern shore of the pond.
I reached the point in early afternoon local time. With no trees, it was easy to zero out the GPS receiver. The point lies on a slope of about 10 degrees to the east, on the first hill to the northwest of the pond. The ground cover is in natural prairie grass; I doubt this field had ever been planted in crops but I could be wrong. The temperature stood at a pleasant 60 F; this time of year was about the best time to be out here; because this part of the continent can be blazing hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. I have experienced both extremes on my past treks to this wonderful state. As I expected, it was quite windy, but I always love being at a confluence point, especially one as important as 100 degrees west. Besides my usual video, I filmed one about the importance of the 100th Meridian in history and geography. I posted them on my video channel geographyuberalles. I now have amassed about 6 points in North Dakota stretching back to 2002; it had been 3 years since my last point in the state, and it was great to be back. It was especially wonderful to be the second person to stand on this point; besides the local ranchers, of course. After seeing so much urban sprawl of late, it was wonderful to be in an area of such low population density. I could see no houses of any kind from the point.
I was a bit weary but set back out to the east, the way I had come in, and after an hour hike back, found the cattle clustered near my vehicle just on the other side of the fence. I greeted them and filmed another video.
It is always good to see the vehicle again. After reaching it, I set off to 46 North 100 West, one degree to the south, hoping to reach it before sundown. It was a great day to be on the Great Plains!