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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Fort Randall Dam
Missouri River Hydroelectric Dam
Pickstown, SD

Fort Randall Dam

• Location: River Mile 880.0
• Structure Type: Earth Fill
• Structure Width: 10,700 Feet
• River Elevation (Pool): 1,354 Feet
• River Elevation (Outflow): 1,235 Feet
• Waterfall: 140 Feet
• Date Built: Built 1946 To 1953
Fort Randall Dam is the second of six major dams on the Missouri River as you head upstream. It is ranked as the 32nd largest dam in the world when ranked by the amount of materials that it took to build the dam. The dam is also the Missouri River crossing for highways US-18 and US-281.

The dam was authorized by Congress in 1944 as part of a flood control act, and it became part of the Pick-Sloan Plan, which was a comprehensive plan for water resources in the entire Missouri River basin. The US Army Corps of Engineers built the dam, starting in 1946, just 2 years after passage of the authorization. The dam itself is just over 2 miles wide at 10,700 feet, and is 165 feet tall. The 140 foot water fall is used to power 8 hydro power turbines that produce a combined 320-megawatts of power. The US Army Corps of Engineers suggests that is enough power for a city of 250,000 people. Lake Francis Case runs for 107 miles behind the dam, and backups up to the Big Bend Dam.

The Fort Randall Dam is named after a nearby historic army post called Fort Randall. The army post was named after Colonel Daniel W. Randall, a former paymaster with the US Army. The lake is named after Senator Francis Higbee Case. Case was noted as a major supporter of highway and waterway development.


Fort Randall Dam
The photo above is a view of Lake Francis Case. The lake extends upstream for 107 miles until it backs up against the Big Ben Dam. The lake is as deep as 140 feet and has over 540 miles of shoreline.

The photo below is a view of the dam looking east. The dam structure is 10,700 feet long and 165 feet tall. Since water is never allowed to reach the top of the dam, the nominal water fall is 140 feet. The power house is the nearest complex of buildings, while the spillway is in the background.


Fort Randall Dam
Fort Randall Dam
These two photos are views of crossing the dam. The photo above shows a view heading downhill on the bluffs on the west side of the dam. The photo below is a view once we are traveling on the dam embankment.

Fort Randall Dam
Fort Randall Dam
The photo above is a view to our left, which is Lake Francis Case. The deep blue color is a welcome change from the muddy color we see where the Missouri River meets the Mississippi River in Saint Louis.

The photo below is a view to our right, which is the power house complex. The large silos are surge towers. They are maintained partly full of water. If a sudden surge or gap happens in the flow of water, that surge is absorbed by the water in these surge towers. This prevents the surge from reaching the power generators where it might cause damage. There are 8 surge towers, one for each electrical generator. The building in front of the surge tanks is the main power house. The electrical substation is in front of the power house.


Fort Randall Dam
Fort Randall Dam
The photo above is another view of the power house complex. Since there is no water being released from the spillway, all of the water flowing out of the dam is passing through the power house.

The photo below is a view of the highway on top of the dam as it makes a turn to the right. The structure off to the left of the road is the water intake building for the power house. The crane on top is a mobile crane that is used to raise and lower the valves that control the flow of water into the power house.


Fort Randall Dam
Fort Randall Dam
These two photos are a view of crossing the highway on top of the dam as it crosses the main spillway. The photo above is approaching the spillway, while the photo below is traveling over the spillway. As soon as the dam ends, we start a climb up the bluffs on the east side of the dam. The visitor center is located to the left of the end of the dam.

Fort Randall Dam
Fort Randall Dam
These two photos are views of the intake structure for the power house. The intake has valves that control the rate of flow of water into the turbine units. The water is carried from the intake to the power house via 4 conduits that are each 22 feet in diameter and 1,013 feet long. The photo above shows the bridge from the dam to the intake structure. The photo below also shows a view of the back of the spillway structure.

Fort Randall Dam
Fort Randall Dam
The photo above is another view of the intake structure. Notice the relatively large bridge leading to the structure from the dam.

The photo below is another view of the back of the spillway. The spillway is 1,000 feet long. It has 21 Tainter gates that are 40 feet by 29 feet.


Fort Randall Dam
Fort Randall Dam
The photo above is the output of the spillway. All of the gates are currently closed, so there is only a trickle of leakage water flowing into the river from this structure.

The photo below is a view of the builder's plate on the end of the spillway.


Fort Randall Dam
Fort Randall Dam
These two photos are signs that are located in public areas at each end of the dam. The sign above is at the visitor center, while the sign below is at the overlook at the west end of the dam.

Fort Randall Dam

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