Construction Milestones

From the first ceremonial blast, to the starting of the first generator,

notable milestones in construction were shared with the public.

Early concept sketch showing powerhouse location on the southside of the river.
First Blast!
Ground breaking ceremony
General Pick arrives for Open House
1948 Openhouse Ceremonies
On a signal from President Eisenhower,
Gov. Sigurd Anderson pushed a button
to start the first generator

With the beginning of the Fort Randal Dam in 1946 through the completion in 1956, there were five ceremonial events covering special occasions.

1946 Groundbreaking: The groundbreaking was kicked off with a ceremonial dynamite charge explosion on July 30, 1946 at 2:30 PM. Ceremonies were held on site through the courtesy of Frank Hazuka, owner of the land. It was a dramatic and epochal moment in the histories of South Dakota, Nebraska and other states lying within the valley of the great Missouri River when ground was broken to usher in a new era of development in the Middle West by bringing under man’s control the mighty forces of the Missouri River. The event was jointly sponsored by the State of South Dakota, State of Nebraska and the Towns and Cities of the Area in cooperation with the Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army. The ceremony included a concert by the Yankton Municipal-Elks Band, Drill by the Yankton VFW Drum & Bugle Corps, demonstration by the Winner Saddle Club accompanied by the Winner High School Band, concert by the Platte High School Band and Ceremonial Indian Dance by the local Sioux Indian Tribe. Also, there was an aerial demonstration by the Wagner Airport. Brigadier General Pick, Governors and other dignitaries arrive via stage coach. Presiding was M. Q. Sharpe, Governor of South Dakota and Dwight Griswold, Governor of Nebraska. There were several Distinguished guests including Francis Case, Member of Congress, Lester Walker, Engineer in Charge River Basin Work - Federal Power Commission, William Warne, Assistant Commissioner of Reclamation, Lt. Colonel Delbert Freeman, Omaha District Engineer and George Evans, Engineer in Charge of Fort Randall project.  General Pick gave the Keynote address.

An interesting and little-known piece of history is that the Groundbreaking brochure included a sketch of the Dam which showed the powerhouse and intake towers located at the original river channel and the spillway located near the town site where it is now located. By the time work started on the

dam later in 1946, the Corps moved the powerhouse & intake towers to their current location next to the spillway. This was apparently done to take advantage of the solid chalk rock deposits for the tunnels. Obviously, the Corps has the alternate final design ready to go on the drawing board.

1948 Open House: Open house Ceremonies were held on Jul 22, 1948 with caravans arriving at 12:30 PM. There were concerts by the Yankton Municipal Band and Platte High School Band. The Master of Ceremonies was Oscar Broyer, President of the Sioux City, IA Chamber of Commerce. Distinguished guests included Neb. Senator Hugh Butler, SD Senator Karl Mundt, SD Senator Charles Gurney, Val Peterson, Governor of Nebraska, George Mickelson, Governor of South Dakota, Colonel Louis Prentiss, Omaha District Engineer and Everett Winter, Manager of the Mississippi Valley Association. Addresses were made by Major General Lewis Pick, Missouri River Division Engineer on Development of the Great Missouri Valley and Senator Charles Gurney.

1952 Missouri River Closure: Ceremonies were held on July 26, 1952 for the official River closing. George Evans, Fort Randall Area Engineer was the Master of Ceremonies and introduced distinguished guests SD Senator Karl Mundt, SD Senator Francis Case, Representative Harold Lovre, and Representative E. Y. Berry. Colonel Henry Hoeffer, Omaha District Engineer described the closure operations and addresses were made by Brigadier General William Potter, Missouri River Division Engineer representing Lt. General Lewis Pick, Chief of the entire Corps of Army Engineers and Sigurd Anderson, Governor of South Dakota.

1954 Start Up of First Generator: On March 15, 1954, in Washington, DC … President Dwight Eisenhower touched a gold key which sounded a buzzer in the Fort Randall Dam powerhouse and governor Sigurd Anderson pressed a button on the speaker’s platform to start the first generator to be installed on South Dakota’s Missouri River Dams. The wicker gates of the first turbine water wheel opened and water poured through them, spinning the huge 60-ton turbine water wheel, which in turn started the 40,000-kilowatt generator. When all eight generators are working, the hydroelectric installation will be capable of producing enough power for a city of over 650,000. It took only 10 seconds from the time Governor Anderson gave the signal until the generator reached full speed. President Eisenhower in his brief address broadcast over a loud speaker system in the huge powerhouse said the ceremony was significant not only to the individuals who will benefit directly, but as a symbol of what we all over America want to do with our natural resources

1956 Fort Randall Dam Dedication: On August 11, 1956 the Fort Randall Dam was officially dedicated. In the morning, an open house was held at the Fort Randall powerhouse and from 1:00 - 2:00 PM motor boat races were held on Lake Francis Case. Judge George Mickelson served as the Master of Ceremonies and introduced distinguished guests: Joe Foss, Governor of South Dakota, visiting governors, the South Dakota Congressional Delegation, George  Roderick, Assistant Secretary of the Army, Fred Aandahl, representative of the Interior Dept, General Charles Holle, Acting Chief of U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, General George Galloway, Missouri River Division Engineer and Val Peterson, Civil Defense Administrator & former SD governor & basin river development leader. Governor Joe Foss delivered the Welcome Address.

Gov. Joe Foss speaks at the 1956 dedication
Closure Makes Redirection of River Channel
and signals the final stages of construction.