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Fort Peck in Valley County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
 

The Slide of '38

The Day the Dam Gave Way

 
 
The Slide of '38 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 26, 2020
1. The Slide of '38 Marker
Captions: (upper right) Aerial view of Fort Peck Dam, looking toward the east abutment of the dam. This photo shows the extent of the slide that occurred in the upstream face of the dam.; (lower right) View looking west over the Fort Peck Dam showing it at its final height. The tunnel control shaft area is in the foreground.
Inscription.  
It was a quiet day, September 22, 1938, and work on the Fort Peck Dam was nearing completion. But the quiet would not last. At 1:15 that afternoon, the upstream portion of the east end of the embankment gave way.

As the earth started shaking, dredge pipes and railroad tracks shifted and sank. A massive section of the dam swung out into the pool, like a great earthen gate handed on the east abutment. Machinery and men alike were wallowed up as 5 million cubic yards of earth slid out into the reservoir, coming an island.

Eight men lost their lives that day. Six are still buried in the dam. A board of inquiry met to study the accident, reporting that the slide's occurrence was due to the shearing resistance of the weathered shale and bentonite seams in the foundation that were insufficient to withstand such forces.

Thirteen months later, on October, 11, 1940, the last load of material finalized construction of the dam, topping it out at a height of 250 feet. Since completion, Fort Peck Dam has proven to be a sage, stable and reliable structure.
 
Erected by U.S. Army Corps of

In Memory of Those Who Lost Their Lives in "The Slide" September 22, 1938 image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 26, 2020
2. In Memory of Those Who Lost Their Lives in "The Slide" September 22, 1938
Oliver Bucher • John I. Johnson • Walter Lubbinge • Archie R. Moir • Douglas J. Moore • Dolphie Paulson • Albert V. Stoeser • Nelson P. Van Stone
Forever Entombed in the Dam
Engineers.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public WorkDisastersWaterways & Vessels.
 
Location. 48° 0.498′ N, 106° 24.014′ W. Marker is in Fort Peck, Montana, in Valley County. Marker is at the intersection of Yager Road and State Highway 24, on the left when traveling south on Yager Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Peck MT 59223, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Fort Peck Dam (here, next to this marker); Built with Muscle and Muck (here, next to this marker); In Memory (here, next to this marker); Town Built for a Dam (approx. one mile away); Boomtowns on the Outskirts (approx. one mile away); Diverting the Mighty Missouri (approx. one mile away); Powerful Afterthoughts (approx. one mile away); Fort Peck Administration Building (approx. 2.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Peck.
 
Also see . . .  Fort Peck, MT Landslide Causes Part Of Dam To Fail, Sept 1938 -- GenDisasters. One man was killed and seven others were missing and believed dead Thursday night after millions of yards of dirt and rocks slid down the upstream side of the east abutment of the giant Fort Peck dam across the Missouri river here. (Submitted on December 8, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.)
The Slide of '38 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 26, 2020
3. The Slide of '38 Marker
 
 
Partial Failure of the Fort Peck Dam As Seen From The Air image. Click for full size.
By Coles Photo
4. Partial Failure of the Fort Peck Dam As Seen From The Air
These monuments honor those who lost their lives building Fort Peck Dam image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 26, 2020
5. These monuments honor those who lost their lives building Fort Peck Dam
"...The chief reason, that I am glad to be out in these parts today to see the work in its inception; to see the fine spirit of all the people who are engaged in the work. That is why, also. that I am very confident it is going to be carried through to the success and glory of the nation."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Excerpts from August 6, 1934 speech at Fort Peck Dam
These monuments honor those who lost their lives building Fort Peck Dam image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 26, 2020
6. These monuments honor those who lost their lives building Fort Peck Dam
These monuments honor those who lost their lives building Fort Peck Dam image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 26, 2020
7. These monuments honor those who lost their lives building Fort Peck Dam
These monuments honor those who lost their lives building Fort Peck Dam image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 26, 2020
8. These monuments honor those who lost their lives building Fort Peck Dam
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 20, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 8, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 44 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on December 8, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
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Mar. 8, 2021