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The Three Rivers Region Backstory

Started by dedgren, February 18, 2008, 12:42:10 PM

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Sovereignty and Governance

Three Rivers Region is self-governing under the Treaty of 1839 with Canada and the United States.  The region enjoys close relations with both countries, but strictly observes its national motto:

Vos mens vestri res quod nos mos mens nostrum res.

which loosely translates as, "You mind your business and we'll mind ours."

Diplomatic relations are maintained with most of the democratic nations of the world, but 3RR has no embassies in other countries.  It welcomes other nations, however, to maintain diplomats in the region.  3RR's foreign policy, to the extent it has one, is modeled on that of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick [linkie].  The governmental and administrative center of 3RR is the city of Pineshore.

Three Rivers Region is governed by a 110 member Assembly.  One member is elected from each of 3RR's 64 election districts, which coincide with the boundaries of the region's townships.  Each of 3RR's 33 cities except Pineshore elects an additional at-large member.  Pineshore elects 13 further members from wards that have roughly equal population to each other.  The Assembly sits at Pineshore every other year during the month of June.  It elects at the start of each term a chair and vice-chair, who then lead and represent the Assembly until the start of the next term.  While there are not political parties per se in the region, its politicians tend to fall along traditional liberal and conservative lines.  Broadly put, the Assembly has pursued relatively liberal social and domestic policies for the last 20 years, but tends to be centrist-right as to world issues and relations with other countries.  The region has no military, but posts observers with both the United States and Canadian armed forces for purposes of coordination.  The voting age in 3RR is 18 if not otherwise disqualified (commission of a felony, incarceration and incompetence are three disqualifiers), and participation rates in most elections runs about 85-90% of eligible voters.

The day-to-day governance of Three Rivers Region is in the hands of an official appointed by the Assembly Chair known as the Regional Administrator.  [to be written]

Three Rivers Region is divided into 64 named townships of equal size.  These townships have no governmental function, serving purely as entities created in connection with the orderly subdivision of the region's land area.  The concept of a "section" of land was developed under the Land Ordinance of 1785 [linkie], a law adopted by the United States to provide for the surveying, division and ultimate disposal to the general public of the vast lands of the Northwest Territory, an area consisting of the present-day states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota [linkie].

Three Rivers Region lies at the westernmost extent of these lands, and the one-square mile section was adopted there as well.

Sections are organized into "survey townships" [linkie] under the Public Land Survey System [linkie] adopted in the United States pursuant to the Land Ordinance of 1785.  These townships are formed from squares of 25 sections (five on a side) or, as is far more often the case, 36 sections (six on a side).  Here is a diagram of a notional 36 section township.

This form of township should not be confused with the "civil township" [linkie], a unit of local government subordinate to counties [linkie] in some of the United States.  Rather, it is just a consistent grouping of sections that provides for uniform numbering and for specific sections (for example, section 16 for public schools) to be dedicated for public purposes.  The sections of a given township were usually surveyed all at the same time.  The map boundaries between sections were required to be deemed "section-line easements" reserved for the future construction of public roads and other infrastructure.  Establishing these easements, usually 50 feet wide centered on the boundary, resulted in the one-mile square pattern of road development that characterizes 3RR, the U.S. midwest and plains states, and the great plains provinces of Canada, which were laid out in mile-square sections under a similar scheme, the Dominion Land Survey [linkie].

The rural areas of Three Rivers Region suitable for agriculture were laid out in this grid pattern beginning in the 1830s and consequently land development has occurred there pretty much as it did in the nearby states and provinces.  In 3RR, however, the first post-independence government, in 1842, rejected the idea of the 36 section township and instead adopted the 25 section township as more consistent with the region's small size (40 miles by 40 miles).  Thus, Three Rivers Region is divided into 64 survey townships five miles on a side, as shown here.

Each of these townships has a unique name, generally taken from a major physical feature found within it.  The townships each further contain four equal-size quadrants, called quads, two and one-half miles on a side.  This, of course, corresponds with the "large city" found in SC4.  The Three Rivers Region Geological Service ("3RRGS") bases its mapping on the quads, which are titled by taking the name of the underlying township (e.g.: "Low Light") and appending the two-letter directional abbreviation (i.e.: NW=northwest, SW=southwest, NE=northeast, and SE=southeast) corresponding to the location of the quadrant in the township.  Thus, the northeast quad in Low Light township is named "Low Light-NE."

The region, based on its size, is not divided into counties.  The sub-regional units of local government within 3RR are the city, town and village.  Every one of these units of government has its own post office and unique postal code [linkie].  Pineshore, due to its size, currently has 18 different postal codes.  Cities are incorporated units of local government established either under a city charter [linkie] or under provisions of the 3RR Codified Laws (3RR C.L.).  In order to incorporate as a city, a locality must have a certain number of inhabitants, currently 10,000.  This number was as low as 300 in the mid-1800s and rose gradually over the subsequent years, which accounts for the many cities in the region that have less than 10,000 in population today.  Cities are formed based on a majority vote of all of the eligible persons residing within the proposed city limits, which, if successful, is followed by a petition to the Assembly.  Each city is required to have an elected Mayor and a Board of Aldermen consisting of at least five elected members.  Generally, cities have a broad range of local power, to include the power to tax and budget, and each, as noted, has one or more elected members on the Assembly.  The 33 current cities of Three Rivers region are Amherst, Aurora, Baudette, Black Earth, Boissevain, Brooks Ferry, Carson Bluff, Cook, Des Plaines, East Pineshore, Ellisport, Falls City, Grand Valley, Haypoint, Highland, Independence, Marchand, Meriden, Montgomery, Oak Point, Ottawa, Pineshore, Pvarcoe, Richwood, Shaw, South Shore, Stewart, Truman, Waldorf, Warren, Willoughby, Wolf Lake, and Wood Ridge.

A location map is at the end of this section.

Towns are incorporated units of local government that are much like cities, but they do not have the power to tax.  The powers they do exercise are specified in the 3RR C.L.  Funds for town budgets are appropriated by the 3RR Assembly under a formula based a floor amount plus an increment that varies by population size.  Towns also have an elected Mayor and Board of Aldermen, the latter must be at least at least three in number.  There is no minimum size requirement for the formation of a town, and, as with cities, such is based on a majority vote of the eligible residents within the proposed town limits followed by the submission of a petition to the Assembly.  Three Rivers Region currently has 16 towns: Avon, Duck Bay, Ellsworth, Geneva, Grass Prairie, Iona, Long Beach, Loon Lake, Marius Corners, Oak Center, Prater Springs, Riverview, Rushford, Stockholm, Whitehall, and Woodstock.

Villages are unincorporated units of local government but have defined limits.  Village governments, which consist of an elected mayor and volunteer planning commission, have only the powers granted in the 3RR C.L. to regulate local land use and provide specified services, such a community water and sewer system.  Funds for village governmental operations are appropriated by the Assembly using much the same formula as for towns.  Villages are formed based on the Assembly's decision on a petition signed by 35% or more of the persons eligible to vote living within the proposed limits.  There are 16 current villages in 3RR.  They are Dodge Center, Fox Rapids, Hanska, Harwill, Hope, Lakeview, Le Sueur, Meachem, New Sweden, Portis, Spring Grove, Travis, Walnut Grove, Weaver, Wheaton, and White Rock.

The region also has recognized "unincorporated places," which are usually small rural urbanized areas that have some historical affinity among its residents.  These places usually have a post office and its own unique postal code.  There are five current unincorporated places in 3RR: Oxbow, Thunder Bay, Kerrick, Truro, and Ash Creek.

Here is a location map of 3RR's cities, towns, villages, and places.

Click here for a large-size map [linkie], which will open in a new window (843 kb).

Population and Demographics

Three Rivers Region has a population based on the year 2000* census of 463,880 inhabitants.  All but about 9,500 residents live in one of the urbanized localities noted in the previous section.

Here's the same table sorted by population.

The only urban place in Three Rivers Region of any appreciable size is the city of Pineshore, which has a total population (2000) of 125,983 inhabitants.  Pineshore is situated in the south-center of the region at the mouths of the Grand and Wind Rivers.

Pineshore contains just over 27% of the region's population.  Suburban areas surrounding the city have a combined population of about another 104,000 people, almost 22.5% of total population.

Together, Pineshore and its suburbs have 229,881 residents, just slightly less that half the population of Three Rivers Region.  Small cities, towns and villages spread across the rest of the region bring the area's total population to 463,880.  The next table breaks out this total by locality type.

The percentages of each locality type are summarized on the following chart.

Three Rivers Region, then, has a population, for all its remoteness, that is by and large urbanized, in that about 94% of it, all but 28,384 persons, live in cities and towns.  Calculated based on land area, 3RR has a population of almost exactly 290 persons per square mile/113 per square kilometer.  This is just slightly less that the U.S. state of Florida.  By comparison, Minnesota, the state bordering 3RR on the U.S. side, has a population density of about 61 persons per square mile/23 per kilometer.  Manitoba, the Canadian province to the northwest, has a population density of five persons per square mile/2 per square kilometer, Ontario, to the northeast, has about 33.3 persons per square mile/12.6 per square kilometer.  It is thus seen that the region is an island of fairly dense settlement in a sparsely inhabited surrounding area- a situation consistent with 3RR more or less being a city-state.

Of other demographic note, the region's population growth is essentially flat, with deaths and a small outmigration roughly equaling births since the 1980s.  Life expectancy is substantially longer than the North American average at 89 years for women and 86.5 years for men.

* Results from the 2010 decennial population census, which is currently ongoing, will be available in late June or early July of this year.


  Overview:  As has already been noted ("You can't get to Kenora without changing canoes in Pineshore"), Three Rivers Region, following initial exploration, almost immediately became a significant transportation hub for the surrounding area.  Much of early Pineshore along the banks of the Grand River was given over to warehousing, as area fur trappers would bring by canoe, and later riverboat, their season's production, sell it, and leave laden with stores and supplies either locally produced or brought in from the Great Lakes up the Rainy River.  The physical remoteness of the area sharply limited overland travel and the transporting of goods much beyond the region in the early years.  The first rude roads, often of corduroy construction [linkie] due to the frequent low and swampy areas of the terrain, reached the area from Duluth in the late 1830s and were then extended on to the Red River Valley and Winnepeg in the 1840s.  Railroads reached Three Rivers Region, also from Duluth, in the 1860s, bringing a new era of economic growth along with a whole host of communicable diseases theretofore unknown to the region.  Within a few years, a rail line had crossed the region, and connected it to the north and west to the growing cities of the Canadian great plains provinces.

It is locally contended that poutine, an incomprehensible mixture of fried potatoes, gravy and cheese curds,

was invented in Pineshore in 1863 as a way of efficiently feeding hungry railroad crews and reducing the growing surplus of locally produced agricultural products.  Poutine was honored by being designated as the region's official convenience food in 1993 and is a main dish at all governmental functions where food is served.

The advent of the automobile increased Three Rivers Region's links with the heartland of North America, and truck and rail transport now surpass, but not by much, shipments of goods and commodities through 3RR's port city of Falls City, which, as noted, in 1970 became the westernmost terminus of the St. Lawrence Seaway System [linkie- please note that the Wikipedia article inexplicably fails to note this information].  Three Rivers Region International Airport has become a major hub for several airlines, and its airfreight capacity now rivals cities like Memphis, Tennessee.

  The Three Rivers Region Department of Transportation ("3RRDOT"):  This department of the region's government has the mission of providing access to fast, safe and efficient means of transportation for the region's residents and to develop and facilitate the most productive use of the region's transportation infrastructure and other resources in support of business and commerce.  The department is further organized into four divisions:  Roads and Highways, Rail Transport, Ports and Waterways, and Air Transport Division.

      Roads and Highways Division.  This division is charged with responsibility for the planning, construction and maintenance of the region's roads and highways.

R-43 heads south toward the DeLong Mountains

The roads and highways under the purview of 3RRDOT are classified as follows:

1.  Freeways.  Freeways are limited-access divided highways intended to move large numbers of vehicles a) longer distances around the region; and b) into and out of the urbanized area of Pineshore and its suburbs.

F-28 west along the Wind River

Generally, the 3RR freeway system consists of radial "spokes" extending out from Pineshore's city center, an inner beltway encircling Pineshore's central business district, several urban "spurs," and two other "ring" roads around the city at about five and fifteen miles beyond the city limits (actually they each will extend, if ever fully completed, about three-quarters of the way around, with the other quarter being the Hotham Inlet).  The region's freeway system also connects with U.S. Interstate 98 (the "Rooftop Freeway") and the joint U.S.-Canadian "Duluth-Winnipeg Freeway", which in the 'states is signed as Interstate 41.  3RRDOT, as a courtesy to its neighbor, "dual-signs" its connecting freeways with the U.S Interstate shields.[/color]


Canada, of course, has never built its leg of this latter road.

3RR has about 120 miles/192 kilometers of completed freeways.  Many were built in the 1970s and 1980s, in particular the ones in Pineshore, and are in need of reconstruction to meet current capacity needs and to bring them to modern design standards.  Pineshore is also the site of the famous (or infamous, depending on your position) battle over the "Riverfront Freeway" along the western shore of the Grand River through a district of historic (or old, run-down and unsightly, again depending on your position) warehouses.  This link (unimportant or vital...your position, etc.) has been blocked for about 15 years but, in light of the current traffic congestion problems, resistance to the project (along with the warehouses themselves) appears to be crumbling.  If every mile of freeway planned by 3RRDOT was built, the system would total about 275 miles/440 kilometers in length.  Occasional governmental proposals to impose tolls on some freeway stretches to assist in raising funds to complete the system have led to impeachment, and sometimes worse...  Freeways run within a right-of-way of 200 to 300 feet/60 to 90 meters, with the smaller width usually being located in urbanized areas.  Generally, freeways have six lanes (three in either direction), but some rural mileage is only four lane (two in either direction).

The region's freeways are numbered with principal freeways being two digits- even numbers indicated freeways running primarily east-west and odd numbers are assigned to those running more-or-less north-south.


Beltways, spurs and ring freeways are assigned three-digit numbers, with the last two digits referring to the principal freeway with which the freeway in question is most closely associated.  Beltways and rings start with an even number, thus the "437 Freeway" that rings the Pineshore suburbs on the south shore of the Wind River is one of these two types designed mainly to serve as a bypass in connection with the "37 Freeway."  Spurs, on the other hand, start with odd numbers, thus the spur "121 Freeway" is the freeway branching off of the "21 Freeway" to allow direct access to the City of Aurora.  Much like U.S. Interstates are called "I" followed by the route number for short (e.g. "I-98," "I-41"), 3RR's freeways are called "F" followed by the route number.  Thus, the "60 Freeway" is generally referred to as "F-60."

2.  Primary Roads.  Primary roads are the region's main short-trip traffic carriers, although some serve as the principal highway to more remote areas of the region where traffic counts do not justify building a freeway.  Some of 3RR's freeways have replaced a corresponding primary road serving the same corridor, for example F-28 and R-6, but 2RRDOT has not followed the usual practice of its U.S. neighbor of "de-commissioning" the older route.  The primary roads in many parts of the region essentially feed long-trip traffic onto the freeways, and then again carries that traffic as it exits near its destination.  There are currently just over 400 miles/640 kilometers of roads in the primary road system.

R-4 crests a hill with Gunsight Mountain just across the 3RR/Ontario border in the distance

The legislation creating primary roads dates back to the 1920s, a time when the entire 3RRDOT was simply the "Bureau of Roads and Streets" and was run from two offices in one of those warehouses now threatened by the Waterfront Freeway.  It called for

  • ...a system of improved two lane roads, each lane of which shall be no narrower than nine feet, laid out as much as possible on the grid of existing rural roads, with no more than five miles to separate any two parallel primary roads.  Primary roads shall be constructed on a right-of-way no less than 50 feet in width.  The north-south primary roads shall be odd-numbered in one or two digits, with lower numbered routes beginning in the east of the region, and the east-west primary roads shall be even-numbered in one or two digits with lower-numbered routes beginning in the north of the region.  A primary road that is subordinate to another, such as one providing a route into a town or a cut-off shortening a round about distance, shall be three digits, with an odd number being the first digit, and with the controlling primary route's number being the last one or two digits, and with the middle digit being filled with "0" as necessary...

Here are two primary road route shields in use in the region.


All primary roads in 3RR are paved, and have between two and six lanes.  Several are divided and limited access and, except for the route number, indistinguishable from 3RR's freeways.  This is easier to understand when you know that every limited access highway in 3RR "signed" as a primary road has a "secret" "F" number, and is actually part of the freeway system.  This is done for no other reason than to rationalize the route numbering system, and not as part of some "black helicopter" conspiracy, as is believed by some less enlightened residents.

Currently, most two and three lane primary roads are located on 150 foot/48 meter wide rights-of-way, except in urban areas where the ROW generally remains 50 feet/16 meters.  New four and five lane roads are constructed on 200 foot/64 meter wide ROWs.  All divided primary roads, whether limited access or not, are on 300 foot/96 meter ROWs.  It is the policy of 3RRDOT that rights-of-way are kept clear of trees, brush and other obstructions, but clearing programs frequently lag behind Mother Nature's unlimited budget.

The major 3RR primary roads link up with Manitoba and Ontario's provincial and Minnesota state highway systems.  To the northwest, a 3RR primary road connects to Manitoba Route 12.

As for Ontario, the connection is to King's Highway 44

which, interestingly enough, does not connect to any other Ontario highway, as it crosses the border west into Manitoba as its way further north is barred by Lake of the Woods.  On the U.S. side, no federal highway reaches the border with Minnesota.  It is reached, though, by state route 11

which heads east to the border towns of International Falls [linkie] and Fort Frances [linkie], and west to the North Dakota border at the Red River of the North [linkie].  As Minnesota Route 11 would be a through route but for 3RR. it is "dual-signed" with several of the region's primary roads and "To" signs across the region.

3.  Secondary Roads.  Secondary roads are the region's local rural traffic carriers.  There are no secondary roads within the city limits of Pineshore, which has the responsibility under its charter for maintaining all streets and roads that are not in the freeway and primary systems.  Secondary roads are two lanes wide, may be paved or simply "improved" (chip seal, tarred, or graded and compacted gravel are all common) and are built, with a few wider exceptions, on 50 foot/16 meter wide rights-of-way.

S-527 crosses the prairie headed toward the Southern Range

S-546 just south of Low Light Hills

Secondary road numbers are three digits long and always begin with "5."  Odd-numbered secondary roads run north and south, running from lower to higher across the region from west to east.  Even-numbered secondary roads run east and west, running from lower to higher across the region from north to south.  Here are two secondary road route shields from the region.


There are about 1,100 miles (1,760 kilometers) of secondary roads in Three Rivers Region.

4.  Bridges and Tunnels.  The 3RRDOT also has the responsibility for the design and construction, and repair, maintenance and inspection of the region's 923 freeway and road bridges and 5 land and water tunnels.

R-6 crosses Two Moon Creek heading west

These bridges range from the mile-long (including approaches) cable-stayed F-60 bridge across the East Channel to numerous short iron truss spans over creeks and streams built in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

S-511 crosses Hay Flats Creek

The region has three mountain and two underwater road and highway tunnels.  One alternative proposed as a resolution of the Riverfront Freeway controversy is the "Little Dig," which would put a little less than a mile of the new freeway underground.  Cost estimates, though, exceed the amount of 3RRDOT's total budget over the next 10 years.

      Rail Transport Division.  This division is charged with the administration and maintenance of the region's 131 miles/211 kilometers of rail lines and associated facilities.

To best understand the task facing the division, it is helpful to have a sense of the historical development of 3RR's rail network.

         The DW&W Main Line.  Rails first reached Three Rivers Region in 1868, when the Duluth, Winnipeg & Western ("DW&W") reached Falls City in the south of the region.  The line ended here for the next three years while a half-mile/800 meter long timber trestle was constructed over the Wind River just west of its mouth.  The trestle was replaced with the current steel truss bridge in 1919.

Demolition of the DW&W Wind River trestle (1919)

In 1870, survey parties were locating the DW&W line north of Pineshore, while at the same time surveying was also underway southeast from Winnipeg.  For about five miles/eight kilometers north of the central city of Pineshore, the line paralleled the Pineshore-Cold Lake Short Line, which was under construction at that same time.  From that point, the line crossed the Cold River, again first on a large wooden trestle, then later on a steel truss bridge now deemed to be one of the most historic and beautiful railroad bridges on the North American continent.

DW&W main line bridge across Cold River

Once past the Cold River bridge, the DW&W route was laid out along the western bank of the Grand River and west shore of Grand Lake.  At Oak Point, a station was established to serve the ferry across the river to Aurora.  North of Cold Lake, the line turned due west for several miles to serve the Taylor Lakes area.  From there, the DW&W route ran north around the eastern foothills of the western portion of the Northern Range, then turned to the northwest to cross a low pass through the range just a few miles over the border into Canada.

By 1871, construction crews building the line reached a place just south of the border in a gap between the Northern Range and the Lexington Hills they called Pvarcoe Station.  A large construction camp was established here along with a sawmill to take advantage of the substantial timber resources readily available nearby.  This camp became the city of Pvarcoe, the northermost point on the DW&W line in 3RR.  The line to Winnipeg was completed when track met in Manitoba just south of McMunn in 1873.

         The Pineshore-Cold Lake Short Line.  By the 1870s, the Cold Lake fishery had reached production levels that outpaced the ability to barge the catch south on the Cold and Grand Rivers to Pineshore during the ice-free months.  Investors, recognizing the opportunity, formed a company to construct an 11 mile/18 kilometer line from Pineshore to the south shore of Cold Lake.  By 1874, the Pineshore-Cold Lake Short Line ("Short Line") was complete and immediately attracted, in addition to freighting the fish, a substantial passenger ridership that had formerly used the riverboat system to travel south.  This had the effect of driving both the riverboat and barge companies out of business, and the Short Line had the entire passenger and freight market for about the next 50 years.  The community of Thunder Bay grew up and thrived during this period around the northern terminus of the Short Line, taking its name from the bay of the lake at the end of the line.

By the 1920s, though, the region's road network had developed to the point where it was more economical to truck the catch directly from Thunder Bay to the processing facilities and markets in Pineshore, and the Short Line's fortunes entered a steep decline.  The widespread adoption of the automobile for personal travel caused ridership on the line to virtually cease, and by 1932 the carrying of passengers was discontinued as the business fell into receivership.  The Short Line was abandoned altogether in 1954, and most of the track was taken up and sold for scrap, athough some sections still remain to reward the railfan ready to brave a bit of a hike and the area's infamous mosquitoes and black flies.

Short Line tracks in 2005

The right-of-way of the Short Line north of the DW&W Cold River bridge remains largely intact and is in the hands of the Rail Transport Division.  There has been growing discussion about turning the line into the region's first rail-trail, and bills to provide funding for this development have garnered an increasing number of votes in the 3RR assembly in each of the past several years.  Many landowners adjacent to the right-of-way, however, oppose the conversion, citing concerns over littering and vandalism, leaving prospects for a rail-trail, at least for the next few years, uncertain.

         The DW&W Highland Spur Line.  In 1884, significant iron ore deposits in the form of hematite [linkie] were discovered in the Pine Mountains along the western border of the region.  A mining camp that was established just north of the deposits quickly grew into the city of Highland, and the DW&W began laying track on a 28 mile/45 kilometer spur line (the "Highland Spur") to serve the area.  The line begins just north of Falls City, heads west across the South Fork of the Wind River, then across Broad Prairie.

Highland Spur line crosses an original trestle just east of Walnut Grove

West of the farming village of Walnut Grove, the Highland Spur turns to the northwest along the east bank of the beautiful Leaf River valley.  At the city of Boissevain, the line crosses Neeley's River and then enters the upper Wind River valley in the final miles before reaching Highland.

Highland Spur line along the Wind River

While the Highland Spur primarily carried freight, it attracted a steady ridership based on the relative remoteness of the Grand Prairie and upper Wind River valley communities.  "Taking the train" was the only way beside crossing the Wind River by ferry just north of the city to reach Highland until 1946, when the road bridge just north of Oxbow was built.

By the 1950s, as had happened in the Mesabi Range ][linkie], the high-grade iron ore in the Pine Mountain mines had played out.  While taconite production [linkie] has to some extent replaced this freight business, of far greater importance is the hauling of timber products, mainly in the form of wood pulp [linkie] to the Seaway port facility in Falls City.  Freight in the form of agricutural products, and in particular bulk corn oil, is similarly hauled on the Highland Spur to the port from facilities in Boissevain.  Passenger service along the Highland Spur ran until 1972.

  The DW&W Des Plaines Spur Line.  By the turn of the 20th Century, it had become apparent that the shoreline of Hotham Inlet east of Pineshore to the base of Iron Hook Cape was a very desireable place to live.  The DW&W availed itself of the opportunity presented by constructing a ten mile/16 kilometer long passenger-only spur line (the "Des Plaines Spur") from East Pineshore to the city of Des Plaines along the north shore of the inlet.

DesPlaines Spur line heading east toward Des Plaines

The line also extended a brief distance west into the city of Pineshore to the east bank terminal of the Grand River Ferry.

The DW&W's action was a foresighted one, as near shore residential lots in communities like Long Beach that sold for $50 in the early 1900s now sell, almost 100 years later, for $500,000: a ten thousand-fold increase.  Commuters have remained highly loyal to the line during its century of operation, and this was even further enhanced when the Grand River Ferry was replaced by a rail tunnel under the river in 1974.  Express commuter trains during the work-week can now whisk a rider from the Des Plaines terminal to Pineshore Central Station in just under 18 minutes.

  The DW&W Wolf Lake Spur Line.  The construction by the DW&W of a 15 mile/24 kilometer spur line to the city of Wolf Lake in the 1920s was, for a time, similarly successful to the Des Plaines Spur Line, albeit for different reasons.  This line was constructed to extend commuter service to Haypoint, but past there the main objective was to provide bulk agricultural and wood products freight services to Wolf Lake.

Loading facilities in Wolf Lake at the mill

The discovery of upsidaisium deposits in the eastern portion of the Northern Range northwest of Black Peak in the 1930s led to the further extension by 13 miles/21 kilometers of the line through the Panther Hills and over the Roaring Fork of the Grand River to a site called Tincup, which grew up near the mines to provide worker housing and other facilities.  By the start of the Second World War, special trains carrying this top-secret mineral south to Pineshore, and then on to a location in the U.S. known only as "Area 52" [linkie] ran several times daily.  These trains continued to run until the 1960s, when the upsidaisium program was cancelled.  After falling into disuse for several decades, the section of the line between Wolf Lake and Tincup, the latter now a "ghost town," has been revived by private investors starting in 1993 as a "scenic railroad," and as such carries over 30,000 sightseers and tourists during each summer season.  The site of the former (?) upsidaisium mine is currently a top-secret facility run by an un-named section of 3RR's Department of Agriculture, and beyond that nobody is talking.

The Wolf Lake Spur Line south of Wolf Lake remains economically viable today, and passenger service has been extended (2002) to the growing community of Geneva.  The carrying of freight, however, remains the backbone of the line's operations.

Freight run on the Wolf Lake Spur Line near Low Light Hills

  Current Operations.  The U.S.-based portion of the DW&W was purchased, in the 1970s, by the Burlington Northern (now the Burlington Northern Santa Fe) [linkie] in the United States.  Its Canadian operations were taken over at that time by Canadian National [linkie].  In 3RR, DW&W sold its assets to the regional government, which continues to operate the various lines under the name "DW&W" under the Rail Transport Division of 3RRDOT.  The only trackage subsequently abandoned by the division was the section of the Wolf Lake Spur Line north of Wolf Lake to Tincup- as noted this section has been reopened as a tourist attraction by private investors.

Aside from operating and maintaining the DW&W lines, the Rail Transport Division also co-manages and operates (with 3RRDOT's Ports and Waterways Division) the rail terminal and Seaway port facilities at Falls Creek.

Falls Creek Seaway port facilities and DW&W yards

The division is also responsible for preserving 3RR's substantial rail history and has set up a museum in the old East Pineshore Station for that purpose.

Abandoned wooden boxcar near Truman

      Ports and Waterways.  This division is charged with... [future update]

      Air Transport.  This division is charged with... [future update][/size][/font]

Natural Resources

  The Three Rivers Region Department of Natural Resources ("3RRDNR"):  This department of the region's government has the mission of preserving and protecting the region's natural resources on behalf of its residents and to develop and facilitate the most productive use of those resources in support of recreation, business and commerce.  The department is further organized into three divisions:  Environmental and Wildlife Protection, Mining, Forestry and Agriculture, and Parks Division.

      Environmental and Wildlife Protection Division.  This division is... [to be written].

      Mining, Forestry and Agriculture Division.  This division is... [to be written].

      Parks Division.  This division is charged with responsibility for the planning, development, operation, maintenance and promotion of 3RR's Regional Park System.

Three Rivers Region has an exceptional system of regional parks.  Consisting of 36 parks scattered throughout the region, these parks afford a myriad of all-season recreational activities to residents and visitors to the region alike.

Waterfront camping at Grey Rock RP just east of Brooks Ferry

The parks include some of the premier outdoor recreation areas in the region.  From beautiful lake shores

Big Slark Lake

to scenic rivers and streams

Exploring the bogs at the south end of McLaren Flowage from Marsh RP

to spectacular high country

Paddock in Tincup RP

anyone seeking a first-class outdoor recreational experience can do no better than to pack up the family and head just a few miles to a 3RR Regional Park.  There's something there to do for everyone!

Kids at Sand Beach RP just north of Truman

Here's a table of all of Three Rivers Region's Regional Parks.

You'll see that some, but certainly not all, charge an entrance fee.  This charge is nominal, ranging from a few dollars up to (3RR) §10.00 per vehicle (2007).  An family unit annual pass can be purchased for (3RR) §60.00 (2007) at any park, or at the park system administrative offices in Pineshore, Highland, Pvarcoe or Wolf Lake.

The Region Park system totals 2,554 acres, as noted, of some of the most scenic areas in 3RR.

Secluded cove at Round Lake RP

All but nine of the parks have camping facilities, ranging from the full-featured

RV/Trailer campsites at Spanish Bay RP

all the way to primitive sites intended for those who travel light.

A primitive site in Wild Horse Hills RP on Pratt Island

Full service sites have 30 amp, water and sewer hookups and full-service restrooms.  At primitive campgrounds, pit toilets

Pit toilets at Eaglesnest RP on the north shore of Cold Lake

and hand-pumped water

Water supply in Rayden Mountain RP primitive campground

are the order of the day.  Whichever you choose, you can be sure that the facilities will always be clean and well-maintained.

Whatever your choice of outdoor activities, 3RR's Regional Parks have them on offer.  There's the region's world-class fishing

Fishing from the dock at Rondy Point RP

for starters.  Of couse, all kinds of boating are available.  There's powerboating

Boating at West Arm RP near Stockholm

from docks and ramps provided for your convenience.

Power boat docks at Big Point RP on Lower Taylor Lake

There's great canoeing.

Canoeing off Little Cold Lake RP on Little Cold Lake

Canoeing at Bass Creek RP

There's kayaking, too!

Kayaking on the Roaring Fork River near Roaring Fork RP

For the equestrian, several Regional Parks offer full-service stables and Horse trails.

A wilderness ride in Paradise RP

Saddling up at Low Light RP, just a few miles from downtown Pineshore

The winter sports enthusiast is not forgotten.  From ice-fishing

Ice-fishing off Bluff Point RP, near Oak Center

to hauling... er, ice, both on water

Annual ice-boating competition held at Round Lake RP

and on land

Snow-machiners on the 13 miles of groomed trails at Low Light RP

3RR Regional Parks have something to offer one and all.

Sand Beach RP and Grand Lake near Truman

The Parks Division hopes to see you at one soon!

Military and Police Forces

Three Rivers Region's military and regional police forces are under the Department of Regional Protection ("3RRDRP").  The 3RRDRP is the most recently created executive agency of the region's government, combining the formerly independent branch 3RR Marine Assault Force with the 3RR Trooper Department.  The command structure has been unified and civilianized down through the equivalent of brigade level.  Here, the troopers, which provide regional land-based law enforcement and related security and investigative services, serve under the 1st and 2nd Trooper Battalions, each commanded by a Colonel.  The marines serve under the 1st (Hotham Inlet), 2nd (Grand Lake and River), 3rd (Barrett Lake and Wind River), and 4th (Cold Lake and River) Battalions, notionally of the 297th Regiment, and these units are commanded by Captains.  These ranks, for international protocol purposes, are considered the equivalent of a U.S. Lieutenant Colonel or Canadian Commander.  The Director of the 3RRDRP is considered equivalent to a U.S. and Canadian Lieutenant ("two-star") General.


Historical Background.  As has been noted elsewhere, Three Rivers Region has a strong tradition of non-involvement in the affairs of other nations- a stance evidenced by the national motto, "Vos mens vestri res quod nos mos mens nostrum res," which loosely translates as, "You mind your business and we'll mind ours."  The region has never committed troops to a conflict outside its borders, although it does have a long history of close cooperation with the armed forces of both the United States and Canada.  The region has been a member since the 1950s of the North American Air Defense Command ("NORAD") and had U.S. Nike-Hercules air defense missiles stationed at the tip of Iron Hook Cape into the 1970s.

It is also one of only two North American sources of the key national defense mineral upsidasium [linkie], and rumors linger of Top Secret projects that are still ongoing.

In pre-independence days, the doughty citizens of Pineshore, who perceived that any attack on the fledgling region would most likely come from the road south out towards Duluth, built the earthen works of Fort Defiance to guard a critical ford over a creek just a short ways from the current city center of Richwood.

The earth berms were topped with wooden palisades, which are long gone.

The area is today preserved in a Richwood city park.  A few of the original cannons remain.

There is no record that the fort or its cannons were ever used in connection with any hostilities, and they were likely abandoned by the 1850s.

As Pineshore grew quickly around the time the Duluth, Winnipeg & Western tracks reached the city, an area just north of the mouth of Ship Creek was being developed as an arsenal.

The forces that quickly became known as the 3RR Marines were based here under their first commander, Captain J. Kalanc.  From the Grand River Arsenal and later local armories, Kalanc and his men could deploy incredibly quickly in their 28 foot/8.5 meter "assault canoes," and could arrive in the furthest reaches of the region usually by the next day.  Smaller canoes allowed force projection up even the smallest of 3RR's streams.

After freeze-up, the canoes were replaced with snowshoes and sledges.  The average marine was a man to be reckoned with.  An early motto of the 3RR Marines was "Canoes at the ready, Sir!"  For some unknown reason by the late 1800s this was replaced by the official motto "Aqua Velva!"

These words, of course, were the inspiration for the eponymously-named popular after shave product [linkie] of the 1900s.

The Grand River Arsenal, shown here in a postcard dating from about 1890,

produced a substantial number of cannons, some heavy but most light, for use in fixed regional defense works.  One of the most significant of these was the redoubt on North Head, which is located on High Island at the mouth of the Grand River.

This great sandstone bluff commands a sweeping view of the West Channel and the City of Pineshore, which was not lost on the region's military planners.  Batteries of howitzer cannon were emplaced on the top of the cliffs, ready to direct devastating fire down on any attacking force.

To guard against attack on the batteries from the south across the island, abatis and gun positions were established.

Like Fort Defiance, these weapons were never called upon.  By 1910, the High Island batteries were all but forgotten.  The world was headed to war far away, and Three Rivers Region, while quietly supporting the efforts of the allies, enjoyed continued peace at home.  The Grand River Arsenal closed in 1919 and the buildings on it were largely destroyed in the Great Fire of 1934.  The land remained in public hands, lying vacant until the 1970s when construction began on the government center and office complex that now occupies most of it.

The 3RR Marines command moved to Camp Meinhosen, which was a former training area lying to the northwest of the site of the arsenal on the north shore of Lake Evendim.  A handsome headquarters building was constructed along with a large parade ground.

Many relics from the Grand River Arsenal found their way there as well.

The days of the "assault canoe" seemed long forgotten.  Most of Camp Meinhosen was converted over to Three Rivers Region University after World War II, and the marines by the 1980s seemed fated to become an anachronism- a relic of another time.  Enlistments dwindled, and morale suffered greatly.

The Three Rivers Region Troopers, by contrast, had grown by that time from a small force established in 1937 to patrol the region's rural highways into a full-service police agency that combined the criminal investigative function of agencies such as the U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the special police services of the United States Marshals, and a host of other law enforcement activities such as highway and border patrol.  The multitude of missions meant that each trooper was often significantly overworked and had to deal with many conflicting priorities.  The end result was much the same as the situation suffered by the marines: low morale and job dissatisfaction.

Current Status.  In 1987, the marines and the troopers were reorganized together along current lines.  A number of what had previously been 3RR Trooper missions were transferred to the marines and a single command structure down to battalion level was implemented.  The elimination of redundant functions and organizational structure provided substantial cost savings, which the newly created Department of Regional Protection was permitted to use for increased training, pay and benefits.  As of 2007, department operations were organized as follows.

[tabular type=1]
[row] [head] [/head] [head] [/head] [head] [/head] [/row]
[row] [head colspan=3]
Department of Regional Protection
[/head] [/row]
[row] [head]
3RR Marines
[/head] [head]
[/head] [head]
3RR Troopers
[/head] [/row]

[row] [data]
Lake and Waterway Patrol
Water Safety
Port Security
Border Patrol

[/data] [data]
Command and Control
Administrative Services
3RR Bureau of Investigation
Air Operations
Civil Defense
Drug Interdiction
Search and Rescue
Logistical Support
[/data] [data]
Rural Law Enforcement
Highway Patrol
Motor Vehicle Safety
Marshal Service

[/data] [/row]

As noted, the 3RR Troopers are organized into two battalions.  The 1st Battalion is responsible for the area west and south of the Cold River and west of the Grand River and Hotham Inlet and is headquartered at Falls City.  The 2nd Battalion is responsible for the area north and east of the Cold River and Hotham Inlet and east of Grand River, and including Pratt and High Islands.  It is headquartered at East Pineshore.

Individual Trooper units are called posts, and they are located as follows.

[tabular type=1]
[row] [head] [/head] [head] [/head] [/row]
[row] [head colspan=2]
3RR Troopers
[/head] [/row]
[row] [head]
1st Battalion
[/head] [head]
2nd Battalion
[/head] [/row]

[row] [data]
Falls City (HQ)
Fox Rapids

[/data] [data]
East Pineshore (HQ)
Wolf Lake
Wood Ridge
[/data] [/row]

The 3RR Marines are organized into four battalions.  The 1/297th Battalion's area of operations is responsible for Hotham Inlet and its tributary rivers and streams less the Grand and Wind Rivers, and the battalion headquarters is at East Pineshore.  The 2/297th Battalion's area of operations is Grand Lake and Grand River and its tributaries less the Cold River, and its headquarters is at Aurora.  The 3/297th Battalion's area of operations is Cold Lake and Cold River and its tributaries, and its headquarters is at Brooks Ferry.  The 4/297th Battalion's area of operations is Wind Lake and Wind River and its tributaries, and its headquarters is at Highland.

Marine battalions are made up of one or more companies, and they are based at installations called armories as follows.

[tabular type=1]
[row] [head] [/head] [head] [/head] [head] [/head] [head] [/head] [/row]
[row] [head colspan=4]
3RR Marines
[/head] [/row]
[row] [head]
[/head] [head]
[/head] [head]
[/head] [head]
[/head] [/row]

[row] [data]
East Pineshore (HQ)
D. Edgren

Please call me David...

Three Rivers Region- A collaborative development of the SC4 community
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I aten't dead.  —  R.I.P. Granny Weatherwax

Skype: davidredgren