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Starting January 25, 2017 at 10 a.m., campers will be able to book campsites on-line for camping at the Left Tailrace Campground at the Big Bend Project near Ft. Thompson SD. Reservations may be made on-line at Recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777 to make your reservation. 
In the past the Left Tailrace Campground was a first come first served facility.
Reservations
Starting January 25, 2017 at 10 a.m., campers will be able to book campsites on-line for camping at the Left Tailrace Campground at the Big Bend Project near Ft. Thompson SD. Reservations may be made on-line at Recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777 to make your reservation. In the past the Left Tailrace Campground was a first come first served facility.
Big Bend Dam is located near Chamberlain, S.D., at River Mile 987.4. Although, the dam has a unique bend in its embankement, 
Big Bend Dam takes its name from the unique bend in the Missouri River seven miles upstream from the dam. At this point in its course, the Missouri makes almost a complete loop, traveling 25 miles before returning to the "neck" where the land is only about one mile wide.
Big Bend Dam
Big Bend Dam is located near Chamberlain, S.D., at River Mile 987.4. Although, the dam has a unique bend in its embankement, Big Bend Dam takes its name from the unique bend in the Missouri River seven miles upstream from the dam. At this point in its course, the Missouri makes almost a complete loop, traveling 25 miles before returning to the "neck" where the land is only about one mile wide.
Power generation began at Big Bend Dam in 1964 and the entire complex was completed in 1966. Big Bend hydroelectric power plant is operated to meet peak demands for electricity in the Missouri River Basin. The power plant houses eight units with combined maximum generation capacity of 494,320 kilowatts. This is enough power for about 95,000 homes. The first unit went into operation in 1964 and by 1966 all eight generators were producing commercial electricity.
Big Bend Dam
Power generation began at Big Bend Dam in 1964 and the entire complex was completed in 1966. Big Bend hydroelectric power plant is operated to meet peak demands for electricity in the Missouri River Basin. The power plant houses eight units with combined maximum generation capacity of 494,320 kilowatts. This is enough power for about 95,000 homes. The first unit went into operation in 1964 and by 1966 all eight generators were producing commercial electricity.

Location: Near Chamberlain, S.D., River Mile 987.4

Big Bend Dam takes its name from the unique bend in the Missouri River seven miles upstream from the dam. At this point in its course, the Missouri makes almost a complete loop, traveling 25 miles before returning to the "neck" where the land is only about one mile wide. Lake Sharpe is named for former South Dakota Governor, Merrill Q. Sharpe, who was instrumental in implementing the construction of the Corps' dams on the Missouri River.

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People have inhabited the shores of the Missouri River for thousands of years.  As the environment changed over the millennia, so did the methods early people utilized to survive. Early groups inhabited isolated locations such as wooded draws and terraces which offered protection from the elements and access to food sources. By the time European explorers arrived in this area in the 18th century , earth lodge villages of the Arikara tribes lined the bluffs along the river. Eventually, the Arikara were gradually displaced by Dakota and Lakota people moving into the area from the east.

 It is this mix of Arikara villages and Dakota and Lakota encampments that the Lewis and Clark expedition encountered upon reaching the Big Bend region on September 19, 1804. Their journals are filled with vivid descriptions of the area and its inhabitants.

During the first part of the 19th century, the history of Big Bend was one of exploration and trading. Trading posts and military forts were soon established as people arrived by boat up the Missouri. Scattered early white settlements began at this time.

The northeast end of the dam is located near the site of Fort Thompson, a reservation headquarters established in 1863 for Santee Sioux and Winnebago agencies.

The Santee and Winnebago Tribes were soon relocated further downstream, and in 1865 the Lower Yanktonai, a subdivision of the Dakota tribe, were gathered on the reservation.

The towns of Fort Thompson and Lower Brule were relocated to their present sites in the early 1950's before the old town sites were flooded due to the construction of the Fort Randall Dam.

Big Bend Dam was constructed under the Pick- Sloan Plan for development of the Missouri River Basin. During the peak construction period, a work force of 1,300 people was involved in the construction of the dam.

Today, approximately 80,000 acres of public lands and water provide a variety of benefits to the public including flood control, recreation, conservation of our natural resources, fish and wildlife habitat, irrigation, and hydropower production.

It is possible to view many types of wildlife on the Missouri River at Lake Sharpe. Tribal bison herds can be seen grazing the lake area's grasslands north of the towns of Fort Thompson and Lower Brule. The shoreline areas of the lake also offer excellent waterfowl, upland game birds and big game hunting opportunities. Big game animals include whitetail and mule deer, elk, bison, coyotes and wild turkeys. Waterfowl and upland game birds include ducks, geese, pheasants, prairie chickens, and grouse. Hunting regulations are established and enforced by the State of South Dakota, and the Lower Brule and Crow Creek Tribes.

Lake Sharpe provides many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Recreation areas vary from primitive to highly developed areas like the Left Tailrace area located below the dam. Facilities at the Left Tailrace include campsites with electrical hookups, comfort stations with showers, a dump station, boat ramp, fish cleaning station, courtesy dock, picnic shelters, tables, grills, drinking water and playground.
Fishing is a very popular activity on Lake Sharpe and in the tailwater area. Walleye is the primary sport fish although sauger, small mouth bass, white bass, channel catfish, and northern pike are also fished from the lake.

From Pierre: East on Hwy 34, South at Hwy 47, west on North Shore Road

From Chamberlain: North on Hwy 50, West on Hwy 34 and west on North Shore Road

1.5 miles southwest of Fort Thompson, South Dakota on Highway 47

Call (605) 245-2255. There is no visitor center on site. Project tours are by special appointment only.

Due to increased security, visitors for powerhouse tours must arrive 15 minutes prior to the tour and visitors over 18 years old must show a government issued photo ID.

Tours are available:

Weekdays: Call (605) 245-2255. Tours are by special appointment only.

Weekends & Holidays: Call (605) 245-2255. Tours are by special appointment only.

Off-season or groups of 10 or more: Call (605) 245-2255. Tours are by special appointment only.

Big Bend News


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Play it safe and know the rules this upcoming holiday

With the upcoming holiday, visitors to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas are reminded that it is unlawful to possess or discharge fireworks of any kind on Corps property. Additionally, some areas are experiencing drought conditions and visitors are reminded that fires are only allowed in designated fire rings, fire places, grills or facilities specifically designated for this purpose. Local project offices will have detailed information regarding local fire bans or restrictions. [Read More]
Published: Jun-30-13

Enjoy Your Holiday, Play It Safe and Return Home Alive

Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death, yet the number of deaths by drowning could be reduced drastically if everyone would wear a life jacket. Statistics show that 89 percent of those who drown at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes and rivers may have survived if they had worn a life jacket. Here are some safety tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday. [Read More]
Published: Jun-25-13

Big Bend's Left Tailrace Campground now open

The Left Tailrace Campground at the Big Bend Dam has reopened to the public. The campground had been closed since flooding in 2011 and extensive damage, which requiring repair work that began in mid 2012. Technical difficulties and inclement weather delayed contract completion but the campground reopened May 3. Some chip sealing work remains with partial closures expected while the work is completed. [Read More]
Published: May-13-13

Interagency Military Pass waives fees at Corps recreation sites nationwide

America the Beautiful Federal Recreation Pass Program’s Interagency Annual Pass for Military continues to be accepted at more than 2,500 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed recreation areas nationwide. The Omaha District does not charge day use fees at any of its recreation areas. Special event, day group facility/picnic shelters and the use of the Oahe Visitor Center do not qualify for the Military Fee Waiver. Separately, the Corps continues to waive camping fees for active duty military members and their dependents on mid- or post-deployment leave from duty in a hostile fire zone to include Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and other deployments to support Overseas Contingency Operations. [Read More]
Published: May-07-13

Big Bend's Left Tailrace Campground reopening delayed

The Left Tailrace Campground at the Big Bend Dam has remained closed since flooding in 2011. The flooding caused extensive damage requiring repairs that begin in mid 2012. The reopening is scheduled for early May however, technical difficulties and inclement weather have led to delays in contract completion. Prior to making travel arrangements, visitors should call the Big Bend Project Office or check online for campground status updates. [Read More]
Published: Apr-24-13
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