May 05--A new publication about Moccasin and Foote creeks takes a look back at the history of the area and how the waterway connects to life in Aberdeen.
The book, "Moccasin and Foote Creeks: A Brown County Saga of Challenge and Response -- 1880s-2013" was written by Arthur Buntin and edited by Mark Bartusis. The project, financed through the Aberdeen/Brown County Landmarks Commission, will be the topic of discussion at this year's Preservation Week program on May 12.
"I didn't know if I'd live to see it in publication," said Buntin, who was a founding member of the Landmarks Commission in 1978 and is a retired history professor at Northern State University.
Buntin served on the board for almost 30 years. He said the idea for the project followed a 2007 forum about Moccasin Creek. Since then, Buntin has completed extensive research, visiting with city and county offices, local libraries, the Dacotah Prairie Museum and a group at Simmons Middle School that completed a project on Moccasin Creek.
Funding for this book was different from other publications assembled by the Aberdeen/Brown County Landmarks Commission. Local board member Brad Tennant said previous publications have been financed through grants from the South Dakota Historic Preservation office, but this project didn't qualify. Buntin said the historic preservation office typically funds projects that deal with historic buildings.
In all, 500 copies of the 319-page book were printed, which will be sold locally at the Dacotah Prairie Museum. Tennant said the board felt a book about Moccasin Creek was worth doing because so much of the area's history is tied to the creek.
As the book title suggests, this book is about both Foote Creek, which is the inlet and outlet to Richmond Lake, and Moccasin Creek, which connects with Foote Creek and winds through Aberdeen.
"We're a city between two creeks," Buntin said of Aberdeen, which started as a community on the west side of Moccasin Creek and eventually expanded beyond the creek to the east.
"It's a mini history of Aberdeen," he said. "It does reveal something about the quality of life in our city."
The creek's key function for Aberdeen is as a drainage outlet. Dredging projects have taken place, he said, with the theory that creating a deeper channel would result in water moving faster. Now, Buntin said, there's talk of narrowing the channels by creating a tiered bank to make the water move faster.
"If it doesn't drain, it floods," Buntin said.
Through his research, Buntin said, he spoke with city and county departments as well as personnel from Northern State University.
"There's a great deal of interconnectedness even in politics," he said. "There's a lot of negativity about smells and appearance and positives about its value as essential drainage."
While Buntin says he hopes his book is informative, it also serves as a challenge to others to use as a springboard for future stories about these creeks or other nearby waterways.
"The saga of man's relationship to nature and water continues and awaits imaginative minds to meet that continuing challenge," Buntin said in written remarks about the book.
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Preservation Week program
When: 7 p.m.May 12.
Where: Aberdeen Area Senior Center, 1303 Seventh Ave. S.E.
-- Retired Northern State University history professor Art Buntin will speak about his book, "Moccasin and Foote Creeks: A Brown County Saga of Challenge and Response -- 1880s-2013"
-- The list price for the book is $25, which includes tax, and can be purchased at the Dacotah Prairie Museum gift shop. Books will be on sale for $15 at the May 12 program only.
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