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OUT AND ABOUT: Never done learning. Retired BSU geology professor keeps busy researching the area

Bob Melchior, a retired BSU geology professor, continues to study the geology of local area recently publishing a piece about the Shingobee River headwaters area near Akeley. (Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Bob Melchior can often be found piddling around the many lakes and wooded areas in the Bemidji area.

Melchior, 80, retired in 1995 after 30 years as a professor of geology at BSU. But Melchior hasn’t stopped being curious about the world around him. “It’s fascinating stuff, every pebble you see is an archive, it's got geological information,” Melchior said.

Melchior, originally from Fargo, N.D., graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Once he completed his schooling Melchior and his family moved to Bemidji for his job at BSU.

“When I first started here, the geology map of the United States, a big zone up here in central and northwestern Minnesota was labeled poorly,”  he said. “That was fun being in the middle of the blank (area) and filling it in.”

Since his retirement, Melchior has been working on and off on a project focusing on the glacial geology on the Shingobee River headwaters area near Akeley, which was published this year. “I sauntered around a lot with and didn’t do a lot with it, until five years ago,” he explained.

In order to create the paper and the several maps it featured, Melchior would often have a set plan. “I would go out to a gravel pit, that’s a great source of information,” he said. Every trip he would make sure to take careful field notes of what he was observing. “You compile them (field notes) and then conclusions form in your head as work, you come up with an idea,” Melchior explained. The next step is continuing to dig to see if that hypothesis is supported or not.

Melchior doesn’t have any plans to discontinue his explorations, “I don’t think I’ll stop,” he said. “I’m just curious, I just want to see how things happen.” Melchior explained that the history is all achieved in the ground, “it’s all there, of course, the language it uses is somewhat pompous and heavy duty.”

Besides the Shingobee River area, Melchior is also researching an area near upper Mississippi River to Lake Bemidji to Lake Itasca and around his own backyard near Movil Lake.

“There is no place that there is not a lot of geology,” Melchior said.  

About Out and About

Out and About is a Pioneer feature where we will profile everyday people doing everyday things in and around Bemidji. Stories run on Tuesdays. If you know someone you think should be profiled, please email Maggi Stivers at or email

Maggi Stivers

Maggi Stivers is a Multi-Media Journalist at the Bemidji Pioneer. She covers art and entertainment in the Bemidji area. She is a 2013 Bemidji State graduate majoring in mass communications with a minor in sociology. Contact her at (218) 333-9790 or

(218) 333-9790