And so here is ours. The following are actual historic events (with a measure of creative license taken, of course).
Let’s just say for a moment you are a highly intelligent French mathematician and astronomer circa early 1800’s. Through a series of unforeseen events, you have found your way from France to the fledgling country of America. Whats more, you have arrived at the very edge of the civilized world in St. Louis. Peering across the rugged uncharted wilderness of the great unknown you make yet another leap of faith…to embark upon a great expedition to the upper Mississippi and upper Missouri River valleys (actually you make three of them).
Who are you? Why, you are none other than the great explorer Joseph N Nicollet. The famed mapmaker whose legendary map of the upper Midwest became the basis for future maps and exploration of the region for generations. The man whose name is memorialized by towns, streets and landmarks throughout the Upper Midwest. The man who was truly enchanted by the great ridge of rolling prairie hills dividing the Indian lands known then as Yankton Country and Sisseton Country.
To date, you have made two full expeditions up and down the Mississippi River and charted amazing swaths of land. You think you have seen it all. Great wooded valleys, endless strings of lakes, vast prairies, abundant wildlife (not to mention temperature extremes). It is not until you reach a fascinating place on the journey home from your 3rd and final expedition that you have the opportunity to see and enjoy the prairie the way you have dreamed of for years. In the distance, as you approach from the north you see a giant range of hills rising a thousand feet above the prairie floor. In awe, you take a moment to sketch the outline of the hills in your journal to capture the moment. Your journal contains drawings of flowers, animals, maps and people. Until now, the one thing it was missing was an impressive geologic landform (this landform would one day be the most prominent landform in your completed map). But as it turns out, even the prairie perspective is no match for the view you see from atop the hills. A sweeping view of the expansive prairie takes your breath away as the cool breeze and warm sun delight your senses. You see the flat land you have been exploring for years now in a new dimension and the experience breathes a new joy into your adventure. Of course, you feel compelled to use your native language to bestow a very sophisticated name upon this remarkable place. ‘Coteau des Prairies’ rolls off your French tongue and instantly you know that is the name for this place. In English it means…slope or hill of the prairie. As you continue home along the 200-mile stretch of the Coteau des Prairies towards St. Louis you long for another view as stunning as the view of the northern plains at the head of the Coteau. In time, you come to realize there is no other place like it.
It is likely that 172 years ago, in 1839, Nicollet stopped at or at least passed through the very site where Coteau des Prairies Lodge is located. His journal and map indicate the path his expedition party took ran extremely close to the lodge site (see map inset detail in above post). Judging by the prominence and height of the peak where the lodge is pearched one would consider it to be an ideal spot for someone such as Nicollet to gain the highest visibility for observations of the land. He very well may have enjoyed a crackling campfire under the boundless star spangled sky on the hilltop where now a cozy, rustic lodge is being built.
The Coteau des Prairies Lodge logo was created by Phillip Breker and was inspired by Joseph N Nicollet and his travels. The old script style lettering is meant to appear as that of an early explorer such as Nicollet writing in his journal and recording his findings. And the hill line is of course an actual hand drawn representation of the Coteau des Prairies at the lodge site as seen from below the hills. It is meant to capture the spirit of the extraordinary explorers, pioneers and natives of this great land.
It is intentional that the logo does not emphasize any particular service or attraction of the lodge, but rather it highlights the heritage and beauty of the location. For example, although we fully expect many to associate Coteau des Prairies Lodge with hunting, and we intend to accommodate hunters, we want our theme to reflect the natural and social history of our area. The decor and atmosphere of the lodge will complement this effort. In fact, you may actually learn a thing or two about the history of our area when you come to visit. We want all of our visitors to feel at home and welcome no matter who they are or what purpose brings them to Coteau des Prairies Lodge and our fascinating but little known part of the world.