It’s a Dam Big Country — Day 5

Yipes, it’s a late on tonight.

A big day. Three dams and approx. 400 miles.

Start­ed in Mobridge, SD. (Left my pil­low behind in the motel — not a good start)

Then missed the first turn. From hwy 12 to hwy 83. But I found this in the lit­tle turn around…

100th meridian marker
100th merid­i­an marker

Click on the image to read the full text. It’s worth it.

Oahe Dam

The day warmed up quick­ly. It was 83 degrees when I reached Oahe Dam at 1:30.

The intakes for the pow­er house are stuck out in the lake.

intakes at the oahe dam
intakes at the oahe dam

You can see the pow­er house (one of them — there are eight cylin­ders) and the transformers.

powerhouse and transmission lines at oahe dam
pow­er­house and trans­mis­sion lines at oahe dam

Big Bend Dam

The sec­ond dam of the day was Big Bend Dam. Anoth­er Army Corps of Engi­neers dam on the Mis­souri. You’ll notice a fam­i­ly resem­blance between all of today’s dams.

Here’s a lake­side view of the spill­way gates.

lakeside view of the spillway at big bend dam
lake­side view of the spill­way at big bend dam

And here’s what the back side of one of those gates looks like.

spillway gate mechanism at big bend dam
spill­way gate mech­a­nism at big bend dam

It was 4:30 when I fin­ished up at Big Bend. I haven’t had a chance to take pho­tographs at either down or dusk. Dawn isn’t going to hap­pen — not a morn­ing per­son. Dusk on the oth­er hand… The Fort Ran­dall Dam was just about the right dis­tance (100 miles — more or less) and the tim­ing would be right for some inter­est­ing light.

Fort Ran­dall Dam

Yes the light was good. Here’s the lake­side of the spillway.

lakeside view of the spillway gate at fort randall dam
lake­side view of the spill­way gate at fort ran­dall dam

Unlike most of the dams I’ve vis­it­ed so far this one has side­walks along part of the road that cross­es the dam. I walked out. I was sur­round­ed birds, swal­lows. Thou­sands of swal­lows. They’re nest­ing in the sup­port struc­ture above the spill­way. And 7:30 in the evening is the per­fect time for bug hunt­ing. I spent half an hour watch­ing them wheel around me.

swallows nesting in the fort randall dam
swal­lows nest­ing in the fort ran­dall dam

Ran­dom thoughts from the road today:

I spent 4.5 miles on I‑90 today. I remem­ber what I like about inter­states. Qual­i­ty pavement.

Pheas­ants con­tin­ue to pur­sue the hon­or of com­mit­ting sui­cide by Mer­cedes-Benz. I con­tin­ue to deny them.

After 1000 miles of cows I saw some sheep today.

Some of the things folks are dri­ving in the fields around here don’t fit on the road. Not even with shoul­ders. My car is real­ly lit­tle. Trac­tor dri­vers always wave.

The lit­tle town of Plat­te, SD is very much alive. All the store fronts are occu­pied and none of the gas sta­tions are aban­doned. I have hope for this country.

Today’s Route:

View It’s a Big Dam Coun­try — Day 5 in a larg­er map

About the Author

Lara Harriger


  1. Robbie

    inter­est­ing how those ranch roads make such nice neat lit­tle stair-step­pies, too, eh?

    Should you find your way into Gross, NB on the way back do stop and take pic­tures of the big Gross house (assum­ing it’s a) still stand­ing and b) not occu­pied by unfriend­ly peo­ple with guns) If it’s occu­pied by fam­i­ly they would be rela­tions by way of Great Grand Uncle Ben, I think. (who left NB when the rail­road did­n’t come through Gross as expect­ed to start to Gen­er­al Store in Carter Co, MT) When Mom was last there the house was unoc­cu­pied and in dan­ger of becom­ing derelict — which would be a bloody shame, since by all accounts it was quite the man­sion of the day.

    Wish I knew where in IA the Dutch G‑G-Grand-Aunt (I think) was a teacher. Have had enough ‘small world’ expe­ri­ence to not be sur­prised if it were some place your path crossed.

    ~Safe Jour­ney!

  2. Kathy

    Lara — no click­ie pos­si­ble on the mark­er image! I want to read it. 🙂

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