Like many localities, Northfield is currently a site of hard-fought political campaigning. Some local candidates have good ideas, while others have bad ones, but none have the sort of bold ideas that will lead the city through the challenge of a prime-numbered calendar year.
Into this breach, I now step with a bold idea to capitalize on one of Northfield’s main assets. No, not the thriving colleges. Not the vibrant downtown. Not the endless opportunities for outdoor activities. Not even our manure-scented poultry industry.
No, I’m talking about our downtown waterfall on the Cannon River – and not as an impediment to canoeing, kayaking, jetskiing, waterskiing, or yachting. I don’t care about those drowning-intensive activities, but I do care about the logs that are so frequently trapped on the lip of the dam. For too long we’ve ignored this flotsam, but the time is now right to use these logs to raise our fair city’s profile and even, I argue, to raise our poor city’s revenue.
First, I propose to install several high-resolution cameras over the waterfall so that we can broadcast continuous video of the logs stuck there. Dubious? Think of the “eagle cams” that broadcast the wonder of baby raptors being hatched and fledged, such as the one from Decorah, Iowa. The Northfield “Log Cam” will be like that, only with way less squawking and way better chances of dangerous plunges over the edge. And what the eagle cam did for Decorah, the Log Cam will do for Northfield – launch us into national and even international prominence as a place where the spectacles of nature can be seen by anyone with high speed Internet access.
As everyone knows, logs have numerous advantages over eaglets. At least three are important to my plan. First, the stream of logs is continuous throughout the year. Unlike eaglets, which are born in late winter and fledge in the spring, leaving the nest empty and boring, logs come down the Cannon River throughout the year. Second, logs come in all sorts of interesting shapes and sizes, unlike baby eagles that are, almost by definition, identically tiny and ugly. Third, Northfield’s climate and weather ensures that logs will come down the river in large numbers at unexpected times: with the spring snow melt or with major rainstorms. Autumnal eagle baby booms are unknown to ornithology.
The second part of my plan is even more promising. I propose that we create a sure-to-be-lucrative gaming enterprise by which anyone – here in Northfield or around the world – can wager on the exact timing of any log’s eventual trip over the falls. In this “Log Drop” game, the bettor who chooses the time closest to the actual moment a log restarts its trip toward Red Wing would receive a fair payout, while the city of Northfield would enjoy a nice skim of each wager. Local businesses would enjoy a spillover effect from any bettors who come to Northfield to place in-person wagers and to soak up the ambience of our beautiful town.
Obviously, we would have to collaborate with appropriate state and national authorities in this endeavor, but I am confident that they will see the wisdom of this plan. In addition, we will have to take measures to ensure that no one games the game by prematurely sending logs over the dam with long poles, scuba divers, trained super-ducks, sticks of dynamite, or other means. I am confident that this problem too can be resolved.
If the Log Cam is smart (and it is), the Log Drop is genius. Imagine the flood of onlookers who would come to town to visit the falls firsthand each spring or after one of our innumerable summer deluges as the swollen Cannon carries more and more logs downriver. Imagine the excitement of the Defeat of Jesse James Days crowds as they get in on the betting. And unlike most aquatic activities, the Log Drop does not depend on the height of the river. The logs come no matter how much water is flowing down the river, and they eventually go over the lip unless gravity stops working.
In combination, the Log Cam and Log Drop will help Northfield both garner the prominence which we so richly deserve and help us broaden the current of revenues which will ensure that we thrive through 2013 and beyond.