Missouri River | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Missouri River

High runoff continues in upper Missouri Basin

Nov 8, 2019
US Army Corps of Engineers

The US Army Corps of Engineers says runoff continues to be high throughout most of the Missouri River Basin.

"2019 continues to be a very wet year throughout the basin," said Corps Missouri River Management Division director John Remus. "This has led to excessive runoff into the reservoirs and to the unregulated streams below."

Those unregulated streams include the James River in North and South Dakota.

: From the historic North Dakota postcard collection of Nels Backman

History of the Garrison Dam is forever entwined with the lifeways of the native people of the Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota. The massive water project for flood control and hydroelectric power took seven years to construct west of Underwood, North Dakota. But the massive rolled earth dam also claimed the lives of 15 workers and most of the reservation's river bottom land, which the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people had relied on for centuries for their gardens, water and other resources. The Garrison Dam forced them to higher, windier ground and the new town of New Town as the reservoir of what would become Lake Sakakawea swallowed their homes. 

On this date in 1887 the McClean County Mail touted the great advantages that the town of Washburn had to offer. The town had been founded five years earlier 1882 by John Satterlund. He felt the area was an excellent site for a town. The location offered many benefits including good soil, an abundance of wood and coal, and excellent water transportation thanks to the Missouri River.

Heart of Dakota

Mar 23, 2019

The Missouri River never had a Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, to pilot its historic steamboats into the literary canon. Steamboating on the Great Plains in general has been shortchanged by regional historians, beginning with the great one, Walter Prescott Webb, in 1931. This was because Webb was from Texas, and steamboats were not significant drivers of white settlement on the southern plains.

The weather was fine as the men of the Corps of Discovery worked on their pirogue boats for several days at Fort Mandan on the Missouri River during their winter with the Mandans and Hidatsas. Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and their men would begin the next leg of the trip with the coming of spring, and were busy with preparations.

About eight miles north of Bismarck is a bluff on which the Mandan Indians once had a thriving village called Double Ditch Village, which is designated as a significant historic site. Double Ditch overlooks the Missouri River. It was made up of at least 150 earthlodges that used a sturdy architectural system unique to the Mandan, Hidatsas and Arikaras. These lodges were dome-shaped, made of logs and earth that could house families of eight to twenty people. The size of an earthlodge was usually decided by the men, but the women were the primary builders. Several early explorers recorded their relief at being able to stay in a warm earthlodge during their winter travels.

The First Highway

Jan 1, 2019

On this date in 1918, the Benton Packet Company greeted the New Year with good news. The steamboat company welcomed the increased regulation of railroads. The government was committed to farm development as well as the development of lignite deposits, both of which required reliable transportation. The steamboat company was confident that the increased regulation would require better connections between railroads and steamboats, making river travel more convenient and economical.

Common Carp

Oct 27, 2018

I recently saw a news item about a project to improve the water quality of Lake Nokomis in south Minneapolis. So just what does it involve? It might surprise you, but the answer to that question is carp removal. 

The Missouri River has a plentitude of fish. Modern-day anglers seek to catch wily walleyes, ravenous northern pike, big catfish and even paddlefish. Rough fish also abound, including buffalo fish, goldeye, and bullheads.

In former days, Native Americans harvested fish from the mighty Missouri. Some tribes depended heavily upon fish for food, while others did not. One of the tribes, the Hidatsa, used fish traps, drags, or fishhooks.

The North Dakota Game and Fish department is encouraging anglers to keep fish caught in depths over 25 feet, instead of practicing “catch-and-release.”

"When you catch fish from deeper water, as you bring them up, it's like when a diver gets the bends," said Fisheries Management section leader Scott Gangl. "The change in air pressure could really affect those fish."

Gangl said while some fish could survive, many fish won't.

"Anglers need to be aware of that," Gangl said.

The change in pressure will cause a fish’s swim bladder to expand.

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