Pickstown SD, Fort Randall Dam, Army Corp of Engineers
As one of the founders of the Pickstown & Fort Randall Dam Museum, I am one of three persons with sufficient access to the enormous amount of accumulated museum material and sufficient knowledge of the history surrounding the material to document a detailed chronological accounting of building Pickstown and the Fort Randall Dam which early resident and retired longtime NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw has referred to as the “Miracle on The Missouri”. Before the dam could be started, it was necessary to construct the early part of Pickstown along with an access road and rail line from Lake Andes so living facilities were available for the first set of dam workers and heavy equipment could be transported to the site. The speed and efficiency with which the entire project was accomplished remains a modem marvel. Building the dam was the largest construction ever undertaken at that time in South Dakota. The town was started in late 1946 and the first contract on the dam was awarded in September 1947. The town was essentially finished in 1949 and dam in 1956 … all in ten short years. The emotional energy for writing this story comes from only living in Pickstown from 1952 to 1955 when graduating from high school and leaving for college and the opportunity to work during summer months at the Dam. A very special thanks to Art Trautman, a Pickstown resident and 1953 high school graduate, who did an enormous amount of very laborious historical research for the museum and digging out over 1,500 old newspaper articles from 1946 through 1956 which provided numerous details on how the construction unfolded. And, to Tom Roper, graphic designer, artist and early Pickstown resident, who was the creative talent for the museum and provided guidance on illustrations for this manuscript.
© 2021 Guy F. Rhoades
Rhoades, Guy F., "The Building of Pickstown and Fort Randall Dam" (2021). South Dakota State University, Alumni Publications. 4.