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Eldorado, Minnesota

This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.

Had Francisco Coronado and his fellow Spaniards been just a bit more persistent in their search for Eldorado, the fabled city of gold, and had they ventured another two thousand miles north from New Mexico, they might have found the lost city alive and well in Minnesota. As it was, that discovery was left to a Frenchman, Mathieu Sagean.

Sagean had accompanied LaSalle on his famous exploration of the Mississippi River valley in 1681. While LaSalle headed south on the great river, Sagean received permission to take a party of eleven explorers north to see what might be there.

As the Frenchmen headed up the Mississippi into what would become Minnesota, they encountered numerous lions, leopards, and tigers, all tame. Then, near the headwaters of the river, they came across the great Acanabis Nation, a civilization living in many fortified towns, and governed by King Hagaren, who had descended from Montezuma. Though these natives wore animal skins, their manners were polished. The Acanabis worshiped several fantastic golden idols in the royal palace, all standing on golden platforms thirty feet square. One represented Montezuma with a jewel as large as a goose's egg, which shown like fire. Another image was that of a woman on a golden unicorn, with a horn a fathom long.

Bands of musicians were stationed at all four corners of the palace for King Hagaren's pleasure. The king's chamber was built with bricks of gold. The Acanabis frequently traded with the Japanese with caravans of three thousand oxen and a hundred thousand troops.

The wonders of Acanabis would not cease. Summer reigned all the year, and the woods were full of parrots and monkeys, and the Acanabis beast of burden. Sagean and his men left King Hagaren loaded with gold.

Subsequent trips to Minnesota over the years have failed to rediscover the Acanabis kingdom, and historians have come to doubt Sagean's account. I suspect what really happened is that the Acanabis, worried about the possibility of future foreign invasions, hid their wealth and culture underneath a plain exterior. I believe that the Acanabis are still there today, along the banks of the Mississippi, cleverly disguised as Bemidji.

Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet is underwritten by the Scott County Regional Authority, with additional funding from the Illinois Arts Council and Augustana College, Rock Island.

Beginning 1995, historian and folklorist Dr. Roald Tweet spun his stories of the Mississippi Valley to a devoted audience on WVIK. Dr. Tweet published three books as well as numerous literary articles and recorded segments of "Rock Island Lines." His inspiration was that "kidney-shaped limestone island plunked down in the middle of the Mississippi River," a logical site for a storyteller like Dr. Tweet.