Crookston landslide

Crookston Travel Blog

 › entry 1 of 61 › view all entries
slump scarp at motel garage (6/9/04)

I have spent numerous nights at the cute little Country Club Motel in Crookston while working out at Glacial Ridge.  One night, Sept 4, 2003, a landslide ocurred.  The hotel was built on top of the slope leading down to the Red Lake River.  The weak clays became saturated with rain and slumped, causing a 6 ft vertical scarp not far from the motel rooms.  Being a geologist, I thought it was very cool to see this geology in action.  I climbed all over the site because I practically lived there and felt I had the right.

The area had been in a drought and the water level was low.  When it rained, the river level and groundwater level were so low that the slope lost its supporting pressure and flowed downhill.  It left large fissures in the soil and came within 20 ft of US Hwy 2 in town.

slump scarp at motel (6/9/04)
  An attempt to stabilize the soil was made by covering the cracks with plastic to keep water out and causing the hill to slump even more.  It didn't work.  Rain water collected on the plastic, causing the plastic to sink in to the cracks and expose the slump scarp again.  The rain caused more erosion around the scarp.  Over time, the slump began to re-stabilize itself with the growth of weeds.  I stopped by several times over the course of the next year to note any changes taking place at the site.

At the motel, the landslide destroyed part of the driveway and left part of a garage hanging in mid air.  The slump extended up near the motel rooms, but did not undermine the foundation of the motel rooms.  The two homes next door to the motel also suffered damages.  In all, over $500,000 in property damage ocurred.

neighbor lost gargage in 6 ft drop
   The home next door wasn't damaged too much, but the stairs leading from the home to the driveway were cut in half.  The garage and driveway were part of the landslide and there was no easy way to access the cars or drive them back up to the street. 

I took my geomorphology class out there for a field trip in September 2004.  The geology of the Grand Forks, ND, area is not that exciting so to see something like this is pretty neat.  I think they just enjoyed a field trip. 

I returned to the site in February of 2009.  Everything was gone.  The motel and damaged homes were gone.  I'm not sure what happened in terms of settlement or damages but it appeared that the area had been stabilized, though it was hard to tell under the snow.   It looks much different than it did back then.  I don't know when the buildings were demolished and the bank stabilized.

If you want to read more, my professor and some former students published a poster at a GSA conference and you can read the abstract here.  You can also read an article written by the Corps of Engineers (starts on page 3).

Jonathanchen says:
haha~so cool~i like your travel experience!
Posted on: Oct 08, 2011
geokid says:
Very cool!!!!!
Posted on: Feb 17, 2009
alyssa_ob says:
They condemned the motel and residence. The motel was structurally fine, but I think with the possibility of a future landslide it was too much of a liability to keep the business operating. I think the owners were secretly happy to be out of the motel business because they hadn't had a day off in about 10 years. The residence was structurally damaged and had to be removed so they could stabilize the highway.
Posted on: Feb 16, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
slump scarp at motel garage (6/9/0…
slump scarp at motel garage (6/9/…
slump scarp at motel (6/9/04)
slump scarp at motel (6/9/04)
neighbor lost gargage in 6 ft drop
neighbor lost gargage in 6 ft drop
failed stabilization under garage …
failed stabilization under garage…
failed stabilization under garage …
failed stabilization under garage…
cracks in the earth under plastic …
cracks in the earth under plastic…
eroded ravine (6/9/04)
eroded ravine (6/9/04)
low level of Red Lake River
low level of Red Lake River
slump scarp and cracks near garage
slump scarp and cracks near garage
cracks in ground
cracks in ground
several smaller slump scarps
several smaller slump scarps
scarp separated concrete drainage
scarp separated concrete drainage
clays underneath garage
clays underneath garage
slump scarp at top of hill at leas…
slump scarp at top of hill at lea…
slump scarp at top of hill at leas…
slump scarp at top of hill at lea…
scarp running along motel
scarp running along motel
attempted stabilization of scarp
attempted stabilization of scarp
trying to stabilze scarp
trying to stabilze scarp
6 ft vertical offset at motel
6 ft vertical offset at motel
scarp at motel
scarp at motel
large, deep cracks
large, deep cracks
cracks and scarp near ravine
cracks and scarp near ravine
scarp at garage
scarp at garage
cracks behind motel
cracks behind motel
neighbor lost gargage in 6 ft drop
neighbor lost gargage in 6 ft drop
driveway just got a little steeper
driveway just got a little steeper
plastic at motel fell in (9/15/04)
plastic at motel fell in (9/15/04)
driveway has eroded away (9/15/04)
driveway has eroded away (9/15/04)
erosion at neighbor house (9/15/04)
erosion at neighbor house (9/15/04)
tilted tree from slump rotation(9/…
tilted tree from slump rotation(9…
forces of nature taking over again…
forces of nature taking over agai…
plastic didnt work (9/15/04)
plastic didn't work (9/15/04)
damaged drainage pipe (9/15/04)
damaged drainage pipe (9/15/04)
scarp getting overgrown (9/15/04)
scarp getting overgrown (9/15/04)
my class inspecting the slump(9/15…
my class inspecting the slump(9/1…
motel is now gone (Feb 2009)
motel is now gone (Feb 2009)
view towards Red Lake River - sedi…
view towards Red Lake River - sed…
ravine has been restored (Feb 2009)
ravine has been restored (Feb 2009)
Crookston
photo by: alyssa_ob