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 A Photographic Journey up the Missouri River - Oahe Dam and Lake Oahe

 Missouri River Journey Photographs





These photos provide a visual journey up the Missouri River in North Dakota. The pictures are arranged in approximate upstream order and dates and locations are given when known.  These photographs may give you a glimpse of the sites Lewis and Clark saw and also serve to illustrate the history and development of the Missouri River.

To view a larger version of an image, click the image.  Use the web browser's back command to return to this page.


Fort Pierre, South Dakota Image

Fort Pierre, South Dakota

Landsat 7 and Digital Elevation Model (DEM) image

November 6, 2001

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey National Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) web site, The Voyage of Discovery Continues: A Satellite View of the Journey of Lewis and Clark


Oahe Dam and Lake Oahe on the Missouri River

Aerial Photograph of Oahe Dam, July 15, 1991

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey


Lithograph of the prairie adjacent to Fort Pierre, South Dakota

Fort Pierre [South Dakota] and the Adjacent Prairie

Lithograph by Karl Bodmer from Travels in the Interior of North America, 1832-1834 by Maxmilian, Prince of Wied, 1832-1834

Credit: National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Branch


Satellite image of Oahe Reservoir and the Missouri River

Oahe Reservoir and Missouri River, South Dakota, U.S.A. August 1989

The Oahe Reservoir in this low-oblique photograph is one of many dams and reservoirs constructed in the late 1940s and the 1950s along the Missouri River, from eastern Montana through North Dakota and South Dakota. These reservoirs were built to provide flood control, hydroelectric power, irrigation, and recreation. Dams like the Oahe serve to impound, for later use, water from spring rains and snowmelt that swells the volume of the Missouri River during early and mid-spring. The dams also protect the countryside from a second flood stage that frequently occurs in June as the snow melts in the remote mountain systems to the west. Pierre, the capital of South Dakota, is barely discernible near the center of the photograph just southeast of the Oahe Dam, where the Bad River from the southwest joins the Missouri River.

Credit: NASA's Earth From Space web site http://earth.jsc.nasa.gov


Satellite image of Lake Oahe

Lake Oahe and Oahe Dam, South Dakota, U.S.A. September 1992

Lake Oahe and Oahe Dam, completed in 1958 and one of the largest rolled-earth dams in the United States, are featured in this infrared, low-oblique photograph. Stretching from near Pierre, South Dakota, to just south of Bismarck, North Dakota, Lake Oahe is approximately 250 miles (402 kilometers) long. Visible to the east of the lake are numerous agricultural fields, and to the west is a rolling grassland. The name Oahe comes from the old Oahe Indian Mission that was established in 1874 a short distance from the present dam. The reservoir was constructed as part of the Missouri River Reclamation Project to provide flood control, hydroelectric power, irrigation, and recreation.

Credit: NASA's Earth From Space web site http://earth.jsc.nasa.gov


Satellite image of Oahe Reservoir

Oahe Reservoir, South Dakota August, 1997

The fourth largest in the United States, the Oahe Reservoir can be seen in this low-oblique view. Located on the Missouri River 5 miles (8 km) north of Pierre, South Dakota, the Oahe Reservoir stretches 231 miles (371 km) northward to just south of Bismarck, North Dakota (not visible on the image). The Oahe Dam is the second largest earthfill structure of its kind in the world. The lake has nearly 2250 miles (3523 km) of shoreline and is a very popular recreational area known for its excellent fishing. The dam also provides flood control, hydroelectric power, and irrigation. Numerous agricultural field patterns can be seen to the east of the reservoir. The Cheyenne River joins Oahe Reservoir near the Fort Sully Game Refuge (peninsula jutting out into lake).

Credit: NASA's Earth From Space web site http://earth.jsc.nasa.gov


Indian Creek - 1957

Mobridge, South Dakota 

Indian Creek area east of Mobridge, South Dakota, prior to completion of Oahe Dam ,August 10, 1957

Credit: Photograph supplied to the USGS by A. Spiry, former resident of Mobridge, SD


Indian Creek - 1997

Oahe Reservoir, Mobridge, South Dakota, and Indian Creek Recreation area

This 1997 aerial photograph shows the same area as shown in the 1957 aerial photograph of the Indian Creek area.  This part of the Missouri River is now part of Oahe Reservoir.  Mobridge is visible in the upper left quadrant of the photo.  The island shown in the 1957 photograph is now under water.  To compare the two photos, note the railroad lines visible in both photos.

October 2, 1997

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, TerraServer USA 


Indian Creek Recreation Area

Topographic map of Oahe Reservoir, Mobridge, South Dakota, and Indian Creek Recreation area

The island shown in the 1957 aerial photograph of the Indian Creek area is indicated by a blue outline in this image.  The island, south south-east of Indian Creek Recreation Area, is now under the waters of Oahe Reservoir.

July 1, 1978

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, TerraServerUSA


Oblique aerial photograph of the Missouri River at Mobridge, South Dakota

Oblique aerial photograph of the Missouri River and Mobridge, South Dakota, prior to completion of Oahe Dam and filling of Lake Oahe

The island shown in the 1957 aerial photograph of the Indian Creek area and outlined in the above topographic map is visible in the center of this photograph.

April 11, 1952

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, EROS Data Center


Oblique aerial photograph of the Missouri River at Mobridge, South Dakota

Oblique aerial photograph of the Missouri River and Mobridge, South Dakota, prior to completion of Oahe Dam and filling of Lake Oahe

April 11, 1952

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, EROS Data Center


Missouri River Bridges

Aerial photograph of the Missouri River and Mobridge, South Dakota

This aerial photograph was taken prior to the completion of Oahe Dam.  Mobridge is visible in the upper right corner.

August 10, 1957

Credit: Photograph supplied to the USGS by A. Spiry, former resident of Mobridge, SD


Lake Oahe Bridges

Aerial photograph of Lake Oahe and Mobridge, South Dakota

This aerial photograph shows approximately the same area as shown in the 1957 aerial photograph of the Missouri River and Mobridge, South Dakota.  Mobridge is visible on the right.  Westbound from Mobridge, U.S. Highway 12 crosses Lake Oahe to an island and then crosses the part of Lake Oahe that fills the mouth of the Grand River.  The highway then continues west.  South Dakota State Highway 1806 goes north from the island.  The bridge visible in the upper right of the photograph (north of Mobridge) is the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad bridge. 

October 4, 1997

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, TerraServer USA 


Topographic map of Mobridge, South Dakota area

Topographic map of the Mobridge, South Dakota area

July 1, 1978

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, TerraServer USA


Satellite image of Lake Oahe in North Dakota

Lake Oahe, North Dakota, U.S.A. October 1985

Lake Oahe, 250 miles (403 kilometers) long, was completed in the 1950s and is used for recreation, irrigation, flood control, and hydroelectric power. The northern portion of the lake is featured in this low-oblique photograph. The Missouri River Valley in which the lake sits is approximately 300 to 500 feet (92 to 153 meters) deep and is surrounded by bluffs and hills on either side. Land east of the lake was covered with ice age glaciers nearly 10 000 years ago, but land west of the lake was not touched by glaciation. Visible are agricultural fields to the east of the lake and to the west the hilly terrain of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

Credit: NASA's Earth From Space web site http://earth.jsc.nasa.gov


Chief Sitting Bull's camp

Missouri River in background

Chief Sitting Bull's camp south of Standing Rock Agency or Fort Yates, North Dakota, near Missouri River; over 25 Dakota Native American tepees camped above river bottom with drying or tanning racks outside several tepees, some individuals, horses and two wagons in camp.

Created/Published 1883 or 1884

Credit: Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library


Fort Yates, North Dakota

View of Fort Yates, North Dakota, showing houses, church, buildings, barracks and Missouri River in background. Man in cart with horse is in foreground.

Created/Published between 1874 and 1889

Credit: Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library


Standing Rock Agency

Fort Yates and Standing Rock Agency, North Dakota, overview from ridge looking towards Missouri River; Agency buildings and residences in foreground; fort buildings center background

Created/Published between 1875 and 1889

Credit: Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library


Missouri River at Fort Yates

Fort Yates, North Dakota, overview of Fort and Standing Rock Agency from rise looking towards Missouri River; Catholic priest's residence (enclosed by picket fence) and Catholic church with small steeple viewed center foreground; numerous other Agency two-story wooden frame buildings, corrals, picket and board fencing on left; fort buildings and residences center right.

Created/Published between 1875 and 1889

Credit: Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library


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