the vastness of Montana's
high plains, making a lasting impression on the landscape requires the
herculean efforts of many men and machines.
That's what took place here between 1933 and 1940 when the world's largest earth-filled dam was constructed.
President Franklin Roosevelt personally approved construction of Fort Peck Dam on the Missouri River during the height of the Great Depression, and the project provided much-needed work for legions of unemployed men.
"At the peak of
construction in 1936, 10,500
Depression-bled workers were hired to plug the Missouri River," writes
John B. Wright in Montana
Places. "A trestle spanned the site, and railroad cars dumped
loads of fill into the valley bottom. The government built a centrally
planned town called Fort Peck complete with a
1,600-seat movie theater."
The Fort Peck Dam Powerhouse Museum offers a fossil record of the plants and creatures of the late Cretaceous period to help explain the geological history of the river. The lobby has models and exhibits which tell the story of the building, operation, and benefits of the dam. Tours of the massive power plant are also available.
The Fort Peck
townsite crowns a hill overlooking
the dam. "The anachronistic Fort Peck Hotel dominates the town," writes
Genevieve Rowles in Adventure Guide to Montana. "Many structures remain
from the 1930s, incongruous reminders of a time when the woodsy
was synonymous with the boonies, whether indigenous to it or not."
The population of Fort Peck is approximately 325. The number of families living in Fort Peck is 236.
The lands around Fort Peck Lake are rich in fossils. In order to collect fossils, you must possess an Antiquities Permit. Any fossils that you find must be used for educational or scientific purposes. To obtain permits, contact the Fort Peck Lake Office .
The Fort Peck Reservation, located nearby, is home to two seperate Indian nations, each composed of numerous bands and divisions. The Sioux divisions of Sisseton/Wahpetons, the Yantonais, and the Teton Hunkpapa are all represented. The Assiniboine bands of Canoe Paddler and Red Bottom are represented.
Fort Peck Project
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Fort Peck , MT 59223-0208
Fort Peck Lake Office
Scholar, writer and conservationist John B. Wright profiles 31 special places that represent the unique character of Montana, from the late Ice Age buffalo jump at Ulm Pishkun to the Little Big Horn Battlefield, the Anaconda smelters and the rolling wheatlands of The High-Line.
Wright's guidebook surveys Montana's dramatic beauty of Glacier National Park and Yellowstone, and its personality in small towns such as Jordan and Harlowtown and Colstrip.
"I have tried to convey the geograhical importance of each place," Wright explains, pointing out that his is a "personal account written by someone who plainly loves the contentious, achingly beautiful state."
The sites described in this
book are "official places" registered with the New Mexico Geographical
Society in cooperation with the Center
for American Places.
The History of Fort Peck Dam (Rafterman)
Memories of Fort Peck
from Mystic Montana Magazine
One hotel, one theater and one city hall,
One school with one class clown,
One road in and one road out,
What else was needed in a dam town!
© Phyllis Seeley Burroughs
History of Montana
Dividing the state into six geographic-historical areas, Roadside History of Montana follows main highways to reveal the stories hidden within the vast Montana landscape. Spritzer writes about the struggles of dryland farmers, rowdy antics in the early mining camps, and the heroism of smoke jumpers and park rangers.