The Slide of '38
The Day the Dam Gave Way
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
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public Work • Disasters • Waterways & 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.)
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.