Devils Lake Rises

Most North Dakotans know what has been going on in Devils Lake over the last few decades.  A steady rise of water levels on the lake has inundated towns like Church’s Ferry and Minnewaukan, plus numerous farms, homes, and businesses.  Without a natural outlet, the lake has continued to rise and has been the subject of contentious political battles.  One of Terry’s best photos features a home which was overtaken by the ever-expanding shoreline of Devils Lake.

Here is an animated photographic representation of what the residents of Devils Lake have been battling.  Take a look at the shoreline of Devils Lake in 1984 compared to 2009.


Animation by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media

8 thoughts on “Devils Lake Rises

  1. This is a site for the world to see as if someone told me about this lake I would think they were telling me a lie. I remember going with my parents to Grand Forks in the later 50’s and early 60’s and I thought it was a dry lake but in our vacation travels around North Dakota in the later 90’s it was hard to believe what has happened as where did all the water come from. I have tried to make the trip east to the area just to see the water and how much has changed to the landscape. You have to be sorry for the people that have lost property and to see all the boats as well as fishermen on the lake. What a difference 30 years makes. Thanks for the pictures.


  2. We have lived in ND all our lives. Our son is a sales rep for our distributorship which has taken him through the Devils Lake area every two weeks since 1996. He has had to deal with the constant road repair and the raising of the roads on a annual basis. It is truly sad the number of people who have lost their property to the lake.
    Thank you for the pictures


  3. Someone told me a few Years ago that the natural outlet was filled in during The Dust Bowl, (by dust), and that buildup will someday be breached. When it does, a lot of undesireable fish will make it to the Red River and damage commercial fishing in Canada.


  4. Thanks for sharing this phenomena with all to see through your pictures, descriptions and the comparison pictures of 1984 to 2009, however hard for people to have an understanding of the rising waters and it’s damaging effects. To have a true understanding is to view from the edge of the lake in person to get a real scope of the disappearance of farm lands, homes, roads, towns swallowed up very quickly by these rising waters. I have visited several times and still find more and more disappearing in the rising waters. My heart goes out to those that have lost the battle to the waters indulgence.


  5. Thank you, Troy, for your continued coverage of the historic rise in elevation of the waters of Devils Lake. My mom, Blanche Walford Harmon, says that when she was young they used to be able to walk across the bay at Lakewood as it was dry. My grandpa, Frank Walford, owned a small farm on the lake (although it was a good mile to the shore from their farm) and we used to spend an afternoon walking through the mile or more of pasture to the shore. Walford Addition was my grandpa’s farm. Now even many of those lots, including one belonging to my mom, are completely submerged in the waters of this ever expanding lake. Again, thanks!


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