On a recent trip to Estes Park Colorado we stopped at Fort Randall Dam Visitor Center by Pickstown South Dakota.

Along with some really awesome scenery, there is a really cool museum dedicated to the history of the Fort Randall Dam and the surrounding area.

After the visit I realized just how much I didn't know about this great South Dakota architectural accomplishment.

Here are some of the interesting things I found out about Fort Randall and the Dam:

-More than 50 years after Lewis and Clark first paddled the Missouri River, Fort Randall itself was built the river near present-day Pickstown.

-Construction of the 'Fort Randall Military Post' began in 1856. The site was selected General William S. Harney (name sake of South Dakota's highest point 'Harney Peak') and named after a career Army officer Daniel Randall.

-The "Fort Randall" itself existed for 36 years from 1856 to 1892

-Construction of the Fort Randall Dam started in 1946. President Dwight D. Eisenhower threw the switch that started the first power generating unit in 1954. The entire project was completed in 1956.

-Pickstown housed about 3,500 workers and at the height of the dam's construction almost 5,000 peopled worked on the dam.

-The dam flooded 22,091 acres of Yankton Sioux land and dislocated 136 families.


Ben Davis

-The Dam serves as a hydroelectric power plant and flood control. Cost of the project was around $200 million.

-The Dam contains 8 generating units capable of generating 40 megawatts of electricity each with an annual production of 1.727 billion kilowatt hours which is enough to supply 245,000 households with electrical power according to the Army Corp. of Engineers.

-The Fort Randall Dam area is home to one of America's largest wintering concentrations of bald and golden eagles.

-Fort Randall Visitor Center is located on the west edge of Pickstown, South Dakota, along U.S. Highway 281 and 18. This is a great place to view Lake Francis Case, Fort Randall Dam, and the Missouri River.