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The Northern Divide


PIERRE, S.D. – The Northern Divide, separate from the Great Divide, runs through the northeast corner of South Dakota, near Sisseton. It runs back and forth across the border between South Dakota and Minnesota. It divides water drainage flowing north into the Hudson Bay or south into the Mississippi River basin.
There are several other continental divides on the North American continent; however the Great Divide is by far the most prominent of these because it tends to follow a line of high peaks along the main ranges of both the American and Canadian Rocky Mountains, at a generally much higher elevation than the other divides.
The line runs from northwestern Canada along the crest of the Rocky Mountains to New Mexico. Then, it follows the crest of Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental. In South America, the Continental Divide lies along the Andes.
Every continent except for Antarctica has at least one continental divide.
The Marks of History series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism designed to highlight historic markers all across South Dakota. Click on the special “Marks of History” link at to access the complete list of articles.
The Marks of History series is part of Goal 1 of the 2010 Initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota and Goal 4 to enhance history and arts as a tool for economic development and cultural tourism in South Dakota. The Office of Tourism serves under the direction of Richard Benda, Secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development.