Cheri Register will read from her new book The Big Marsh: The Story of a Lost Landscape. Before 1900, Freeborn County Minnesota’s Big Marsh provided a wealth of resources for the neighboring communities. Families hunted its immense flocks of migrating waterfowl, fished its waters, trapped muskrats and mink, and harvested wood and medicinal plants. As farmland prices rose, however, the value of the land under the water became more attractive to people with capital. While residents fought bitterly, powerful outside investors overrode local opposition and found a way to drain 18,000 acres of wetland at public expense. Cheri Register stumbled upon her great-grandfather’s scathing critique of the draining and was intrigued. “The Big Marsh describes the glorious dreams, the grandiose schemes, the lies, the deception, the ignorance, the avarice, and the unheeded pleas of those who saw beauty where others saw a wasteland. Minnesota has lost more than 50 percent of its pre-settlement wetlands. In lyrical prose, Cheri Register tells us how this happened.” —Sue Leaf
Cheri Register is the author of Packinghouse Daughter, which won a Minnesota Book Award and an American Book Award. She taught creative nonfiction writing at the Loft Literary Center for twenty years, and lives in Minnesota.