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From sunken garages to trucks, side-imaging technology brings bottom of the Red River into focus

A garage on its side downstream from the Point Bridge likely was a casualty of the Flood of 1997.1 / 6
Truck on the bottom of the river.2 / 6
The wheels from an old wagon that's been at the bottom of the river who knows how long.3 / 6
An overturned boat comes into focus near the mouth of the Red Lake River.4 / 6
A catfish cruising along the bottom of the river casts a shadow on the screen of Brad Durick's Humminbird with side-imaging technology.5 / 6
Humminbird Helix 10 CHIRP SI GPS G2N6 / 6

As a Grand Forks catfish guide, Brad Durick uses technology to locate the whiskery denizens of the Red River's murky depths.

These days, Durick runs a Humminbird Helix 10 G2N (which stands for "Generation 2 Networkable") depthfinder with MEGA Imaging on his guide boat. That's a big name for a unit with an abundance of bells and whistles, but suffice to say it does more than show water depth and blips on the screen that represent fish.

Without getting too deep into the technology, Durick's depth finder, which retails for about $1,700, offers a bank-to-bank look at the bottom of the river, providing up to 400 feet of imaging on either side of the boat. Released to the public in 2017, the Helix 10 G2N's side-imaging technology allows him to literally "see" the fish in the river's murky depths.

But he also sees a lot more.

Durick recently shared a collection of screen captures of objects he's come across on the bottom of the Red and Red Lake rivers in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

You'll probably be surprised at what's down there.

A garage on its side downstream from the Point Bridge likely was a casualty of the Flood of 1997.

Yep, that's a garage alright

When Durick came across this structure on the bottom of the Red River—clearly visible on the left side of the center line representing his boat and the top of the water column—he initially thought it was a fish house.

Upon further review, after visiting with another fisherman who runs similar technology, Durick says they decided the the building actually is a single-car garage.

It's laying on the bottom of the river just around the corner from the Point Bridge, in front of the old Central Park. 

"The garage is laying on its side, the peak of the roof faces up to the top of your screen, the door is open or the whole wall is missing, and there is a hole in the roof," Durick says. "It looks like mostly just a frame with no siding but clearly a roof with a hole ripped in it."

If I was a betting man, I'd say the garage ended up in the river during the Flood of 1997.

Truck on the bottom of the river.

This truck's no toy

About 80 feet from the tipped over garage, this truck rests on its side at the bottom of the river, as shown on the right side of the Humminbird screen. Don't ask me how it works, but the depthfinder even shows the shadows of the wheels and the frame of the truck. Another flood casualty, perhaps?

The wheels from an old wagon that's been at the bottom of the river who knows how long.

Old wagon

In downtown Grand Forks, Durick came across this rather faint, ghostly image of an overturned wagon that has been at the bottom of the river for who knows how many years. By zooming in on the image, he was able to bring the spokes on the wheels into focus.

"The stuff downtown is amazing," Durick said. "There are some pilings and other things I did not get back to check, but you could spend days downtown imaging what's on the bottom of the river."

An overturned boat comes into focus near the mouth of the Red Lake River.

Sunken boat

Near the mouth of the Red Lake River in East Grand Forks, Durick found this overturned boat that sunk to the bottom of the river. The hull is clearly visible in the zoomed-in image.

A catfish cruising along the bottom of the river casts a shadow on the screen of Brad Durick's Humminbird

Look, a fish

Here's a catfish as it appears on the screen of the side-imager. Whether the fish bit, we don't know, but we know it was 122 feet from Durick's boat.

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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