Friday, August 17, 2012

Fort Peck, Montana - 08/17/12

We are currently spending a few days in Fort Peck, Montana.

We were traveling westbound on US-2 through Culbertson, Montana, when we passed by a Visitor Information Center and Museum located on the north side of the highway. We decided to go back and check it out. That turned out to be an excellent decision. We were looking for a place in the area to camp for the night and the very nice lady at the Visitor Center directed us to the Fort Peck Dam and Lake operated by the U.S. Army Core of Engineering, which has several campgrounds dispersed throughout this area.

We selected the Downstream Campground, based on the amenties it offered, and arrived there on Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. This is a very scenic campground with spacious campsites providing electrical hookups. They also have a primitive area, without electrical hookups, for tent campers and small RV’s. This campground has a paved walking/bike path that runs through a series of very scenic ponds containing crystal clear water, stocked with fish. This is a popular fishing area and all of the campsites with electrical hookups were already taken. We settled for a primitive campsite through Sunday night with the plan to obtain a site with an electrical hookup on Monday. The cost for the primitive site was $5.00 per night with our Golden Age Pass.

The Downstream Campground is adjacent to one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the U.S. with 1,500 miles of shoreline. Construction of the dam started in 1933 when President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the project as part of the New Deal during the Great Depression. More than 40,000 people flooded to the area looking for work, creating 18 boomtowns featuring businesses and schools. The work force peaked in 1936, with 10,564 workers directly linked to the dam. The dam was completed in 1940. The original purpose of the dam was flood control and navigation. Present purposes include flood control, navigation, hydroelectric power, fish and wildlife, recreation, irrigation, public water, and water quality.

Fort Peck Dam is the largest hydraulic earth filled dam in the world. It is 250 feet high, 50 feet wide at the crest, 3,500 feet wide at the base and 21,026 feet long. It took 126 million cubic yards of dredged earth from the Missouri River to build this dam. The lake is 134 miles long with a maximum depth of 220 feet.

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