The “Miracle on the Missouri” will be the topic of a Thursday, July 8, program at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.
Pickstown and the Fort Randall Dam were nicknamed “Miracle on the Missouri” because construction of the town and dam was essentially completed in 10 years.
Bill Lampman of Pickstown will tell about the history of the town, the dam and the Pickstown & Fort Randall Museum during a free program that begins at 7 p.m. CDT (6 p.m. MDT) on July 8. Lampman will be speaking at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, and people may attend the program there or virtually via Zoom. People may register for either venue at sdhsf.org.
In addition, Pierre historian Ken Stewart will share his memories of what Pickstown was like during its heyday. People are welcome to attend the program either at the Cultural Heritage Center or virtually and share their own memories of Pickstown.
The program is sponsored by the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society. The book “The Building of Pickstown and Fort Randall Dam” provides detailed information about what building the town and the dam was like.
“The recently published book emphasizes the importance Fort Randall Dam,” said Foundation Chief Executive Officer Catherine Forsch.
The Fort Randall Dam was one of six mainstem dams built on the Missouri River as part of the Pick-Sloan Plan authorized by Congress in 1944.
Pickstown was designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide housing for those who would build and maintain Fort Randall Dam.
“Pickstown was unique because the town did not exist before the corps built it. It was designed to have everything a town of 5,000 would need,” Forsch said. That included a school, hospital, hotel, beauty parlor, barber shop, movie theater, bowling alley, churches and more.
The Corps started the town in 1946 and it was finished in 1949. The first contract on the dam was awarded in September 1947 and the dam was completed in 1956. The dam was the largest construction project undertaken at that time in South Dakota.
Lampman and his wife, Rosemary, have lived in Pickstown since 2002. He is director of the Pickstown & Fort Randall Museum. Former Pickstown residents decided at a school reunion that the history of Pickstown and Fort Randall needed to be preserved or it would be lost to future generations. The museum was dedicated in 2014, with retired NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, who grew up in Pickstown, being the keynote speaker.
The book “The Building of Pickstown and Fort Randall Dam” is sold in the Heritage Stores at the Cultural Heritage Center and at the Capitol.
Please contact Dorinda Daniel at 605-773-6006 for more information about the program. Call 605-773-6000 or email Jeff.Mammenga@state.sd.us for information about membership in the State Historical Society.
About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution since 2013, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing, and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit www.history.sd.gov for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.
About the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation
The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation is a private charitable nonprofit that seeks funding to assist the South Dakota State Historical Society in programming and projects to preserve South Dakota’s history and heritage for future generations.