Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The Cannon River today and six months ago March 25, 2011

A view of the Cannon River from Father Slevin Park, looking toward the former Faribault Woolen Mill factory on the right and Faribault Foods on the left.

SIX MONTHS AGO I would not have been standing on this wedge of park land photographing the rising Cannon River by the Faribault Woolen Mill dam.

Here, by this dam, most locals judge the river level. And Wednesday evening, only the slightest hint of the dam showed beneath the roiling river. I kept a safe distance as I photographed scenes I had shot in September when a flash flood sent the Cannon spilling over its banks.

A statue in Father Slevin Park (I believe she is the Virgin Mary) next to the Cannon River.

Back then, this park, Father Slevin Park, was engulfed in water that had risen all the way to the roadway into the Rice County Fairgrounds and North Alexander Park in Faribault.

Father Slevin Park splits the Cannon. This is the other side of the river, looking toward the fairgrounds. The river was nearly out of its banks Wednesday evening.

The situation was not the crisis of six months ago, not at all. Just being here, beside the river, eased my fears about flooding in my community.

My husband, who travels by the Cannon daily on his way to and from work in nearby Northfield, tells me the river level dropped since I took these photos. That is good news for my town, for residents like me who had wondered and worried as the Cannon and Straight Rivers rose.

The former Faribault Woolen Mill building along the banks of the Cannon River.

A view of the Cannon River and the Faribault Woolen Mill from Father Slevin Park.

CLICK HERE to see images of the Cannon taken during the late September 2010 flash flood.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


2 Responses to “The Cannon River today and six months ago”

  1. Bernie Says:

    Yikes. I can see where people would be watching it like hawks!
    The picture of the Mary in the alcove was fun and unexpected.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      The river in these photos isn’t high compared to last fall during the flash flood. Then the area around the Virgin Mary was under water. I like that Mary shot, too. Sort of made me think how so many people are likely praying that the floodwaters will stay away from their properties. I strive to find those types of shots that are out of the ordinary.

      I was telling my husband how much I liked the series of photos I took of the man who trekked daily to watch the Straight River rise. Each frame told the story and I didn’t realize, when I was shooting the images, that I had captured this sequence. It was a pleasant surprise. Also, in those photos, I liked how everything, except his bright orange stocking cap, was basically black and white.

      Ah, how I love photography…

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