Fort Peck a dam good place in Montana

Where dinosaurs once trod humans now swim, and a project which dwarfs any gargantuan dinosaur was born.

Fort Peck Dam is one of six multipurpose main stem projects which operate as part of a system on the upper Missouri River. Construction of Fort Peck Dam near Glasgow, Montana, began in 1933 and was completed in 1940.   Fort Peck Dam is the largest hydraulically filled dam in the United States and is the 5th-largest man-made reservoir in the United States. The lake is 134 miles long, has 1520 miles of shoreline, and has a maximum depth of 220 feet. Water is stored at Fort Peck Lake for the production of hydroelectric power. In addition, the water is managed for flood damage reduction, downstream navigation, fish and wildlife, recreation, irrigation, public water supply, and improved water quality.

The entire Fort Peck project lies within the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.  Created in 1936, the refuge was named after famed painter of the American West Charles M. Russell and contains a large population of Bighorn Sheep, elk, pronghorn, prairie dog, mule deer, coyote and porcupine.

Worth visiting is the Fort Peck Power Plant Museum which is located in the lobby of Power Plant No. 1 on Lower Yellowstone Road, 2 miles northeast of Fort Peck. The museum recalls the history of the construction of the dam and power plants. There is a display of fossils collected from the area including a Triceratops skull. Free guided tours are given every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day through the power plants.

The dam spans across the Missouri River from bluff to bluff covering 3.5 miles. The name is derived from an old trading post that was located here. Colonel Campbell K. Peck and Commander E.H. Durfee established a trading post and Indian agency in 1867 a few miles from the present dam site. Fort Peck established a monopoly on fur trade with the Assiniboine and Sioux.     

There have been many dinosaur fossils found in the area, some of quite major significance.  The best place to learn about those gigantic ancient reptiles is at the Fort Peck Field Station of Palaeontology which forms part of the Montana Dinosaur Trail.  Here, palaeontologists research, prepare, mould and cast fossil finds.

Close by is the Fort Peck Interpretive Centre’s signature attraction is “Peck’s Rex,” one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons ever found. The lobby features a life-size replica model of Peck’s Rex, and the exhibit hall displays a full-size skeleton cast. A Cretaceous Sea display and several other dinosaur exhibits are also part of the attraction.

Camping, fishing, boating and many other outdoor activities are popular.  Those who don’t much like roughing it have the option of staying at the historic Fort Peck Hotel.

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