So we drove on passing yellow waves of grain and rolling hills. When we got to Glasgow we took Hwy 24 south to Fort Peck. Now this is an engineering feat beyond comparison. Fort Peck Reservoir was authorized in 1933 by President Franklin Roosevelt as a major project of the Public Works Administration which was part of his New Deal Program. Construction began the next year on the town which was needed to house the workers, who were coming in droves to this area to seek work. The actual dam was completed in 1940 and began generating power in July 1943. The dam at 21,026 feet in length and over 250 feet in height, is the largest hydraulically filled dam in the United States, and creates Fort Peck Lake, the fifth largest man-made lake in the U.S., more than 130 miles long, 200 feet deep, and it has a 1,520-mile shoreline which is longer than the state of California’s coastline. When you drive up to it after looking at all the fields of grain and hills, you think you are looking at an ocean next to a mountain which is the dam. It was built by redirecting the mighty Missouri River. Check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Peck_Dam
Margaret Bourke-White took a photo of the spillway under construction and it appeared on the cover of the first issue of Life Magazine in September 1936. Here is our shot looking back to the west from on top. This project was a life saver for many families at the time the nation was recovering from the Depression and the Dust Bowl. At one time there were over 10,000 people working in this area or in surrounding boom towns. In September 1938 there was a major disaster and part of the dam and spillway collapsed taking workers and equipment with it. Eight men died in all and six are still entombed in the dam.
We drove down past the small town of Fork Peck to the COE Downstream Campground and were lucky to get one night there as it was Thursday and they fill up on the weekends. One of the nicest places we have stayed in weeks withover 86 big sites and lots of grass and trees, although they only have electrical. So we parked and then did “a drive around to see what’s here”. Part of the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Preserve is here and we saw 3 buffalo resting. Then we drove up on the spillway to see the monuments to deceased workers. Came back, had a cocktail, ate supper and got a good night’s sleep. Another amazing day in our travels.