In 1992, pipeline crews discovered a rare campsite on the banks of the Assiniboine near Miniota, MB, rare because the site was used only once before it was covered with river sediment from flooding. The archies thoroughly dug the site and preserved dozens of artifacts dating back 1000 years to the Avonlea people. Today a viewing platform and information board perched high above the river offer access to a millennium of river history.
Called Wakpa Tanka Lookout, the site provides a panoramic view of the river valley, which includes an oxbow of the Assiniboine. Translated from Dakota, Wakpa Tanka means “great river.” A sturdy well-constructed kiosk provides written and pictoral background on the site’s history and details about the grand valley view before you.
Also at the site is the trailhead for the Silver Bend Trail, a trail with exceptional vistas of the Assiniboine valley. Signage along the trail speaks of aboriginal peoples and settlers offering insight into their daily lives. Steamboats plied the river delivering supplies to settlements along the banks.
The site is easy to find. Access to the trailhead and Wakpa Tanka Lookout is off Hwy #83 about a mile and a half north of Miniota. By the highway is a sign for Silver Bend Trail. Turn west onto a good gravel road, drive over a small wooden trestle bridge and into the site. This trestle bridge, which spans CNR tracks, is a rarity in Manitoba as it is completely constructed of wood, even the driving surface.