The Dam Tour of Montana
Have you ever wondered why Great Falls is called The Electric City? It’s the dams, baby, and it all started with Paris Gibson.
Way back in the late 1800’s Paris Gibson moved to Montana, and had a vision for the Great Falls area. Hydroelectric Power. Looking at Great Falls now, that seems like a give me, but back then, it was innovative, and dams were owned by individuals. He even convinced the railroad to go through Great Falls. In 1883 Great Falls was officially founded and here we are today.
My dad spent a good part of my childhood driving me and my brother around the state, "showing us stuff". I think my dad just liked driving, but he also loved Montana and nearly everything about it. He often took us to see the dams. Besides Great Falls and all of her dams, the first dam I ever saw that actually made an impression on me was the Hungry Horse Dam. I was just a kid and the dam seemed so massive and sort of scary. The people giving the tours were sure to tell us how many people died building it, (and when it comes to dam building, someone always dies.) and I remember clearly how scary it was riding down that elevator!
Montana has over 300 dams, so I just chose a few that were notable in my memory to showcase. These dams are responsible for everything from irrigation, navigation, flood control, fishing, and recreation. One in particular, Tiber, was a huge part of my childhood, and I still get down there to this day whenever I can. Hate the rattlers, love to go there. Last time I lived in Conrad, my farm house had the distinction of being the last one on the line to get Tiber Water. There was one I didn't include, because today I learned it's a dam is but not like the others we're talking about today, Bynum reservoir. I spent a lot of weekends camping, fishing, and day drinking there. So my official honorable mention goes to Bynum.
There are A LOT more dams in Montana, but these are my favorite. How about a dam road trip? What a great way to celebrate fall in the big sky country.