Fort Peck Dam Spillway

Fort Peck Dam Spillway

Two weeks of very concentrated fieldwork, touching most of Eastern Montana. Over 4000 miles of territory covered. Many, many places investigated, many questions raised and some questions answered. I am two days removed from the Hi-Line sojourn and over the next weeks I will explored in greater depth the many significant places and stories that Montanans have shared with me. This first image–of the iconic concrete Fort Peck spillway (mid 1930s), located in McCone County–is a teaser. But it speaks of the unexpected monumentality of the landscape, the starkness of the distances, and a theme to which I will return to again, and probably again: Montana reflects a marvelous natural beauty but it also reflects a decades-old attempt by men and women to conquer those resources, distances, and space by means of faith in technology. The spillway is just an overwhelming example–just as important are the irrigation ditches that crisscross the region; the two-lane roads that bisect it; and the bands of steel of the region’s railroad networks. Our search to master the northern plains continues, and the land, it is obvious to me, is up to the challenge.

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