PIERRE, S.D. – There is a Great Place in South Dakota that is located north of the Pierre and Fort Pierre communities. It creates the fourth largest artificial reservoir in the United States and one of the largest earth-rolled dams in the world. It’s the Oahe Dam.
Lake Oahe extends 231 miles from Pierre to Bismarck, N.D. Along Lake Oahe are 51 recreation areas which offer camping, picnicking, fishing, hunting, skiing, boating, birding, hiking, biking and other activities. Walleye, smallmouth bass, white bass, northern pike and perch are all common catches for anglers fishing on Lake Oahe.
Not only does the Oahe Dam provide great recreation along Lake Oahe, but it also supplies irrigation, conservation, and electric power to many Midwestern states.
The Missouri River today is much different than the muddy, winding waterway that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark once traveled some 200 years ago. Today, four massive dams, completed in the early 1960s, mitigated the river and created more than 900 miles of open water and 3,000 miles of shoreline. In addition, the dams have created a world-class freshwater fishery.
The Oahe Dam was authorized in 1944 by the Flood Control Act. Work began on the dam in 1948 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. By 1962, the Oahe Dam was functioning and producing hydoelectic power. The dam was dedicated on August 17, 1962, by President John F. Kennedy.
Visitors can view the Oahe Dam and Lake Oahe by following Highway 1804 seven miles north of Pierre. The Oahe Dam Visitor Center provides a complete history of Lake Oahe and the surrounding area. Exhibits feature the history of the construction of the dam and power plant and the natural history of Lake Oahe and the Missouri River.
The Oahe Dam Visitor Center is open Memorial Day through Labor Day from 9a.m.-5p.m. Power plant tours are also available during the hours the visitor center is open. For more information, call 605-224-5862.
South Dakota’s Great Places weekly press release series is a project of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, designed to highlight places in South Dakota that are unique to travelers and residents alike. Click on the “South Dakota’s Great Places” link at www.MediaSD.com to access the complete list of articles.