Across Montana into North Dakota


This is several days old now but since I have it I will post it and try to catch up in the next post…

After leaving the Canadian Rockies, the province of Alberta becomes a great prairie with wheat fields going on and on. Crossing into Montana the scenery stays the same. We stayed at a campground near the intersection of Interstate 15 and US 2 the first night back in the US…..Shelby, Montana is not a big town but it has the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad going both east/west and north/south plus these two highways….we met a couple who were also on their first big motorhome trip ….they started north of Seattle  and just about went around the US and have been on the road for 4 months….their rig is on the right with the motorcycle

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We had a beautiful sunset….horse grazing in the field……windmills faintly visible on the horizon …

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.this couple told us about the Fort Peck Dam and Lake so we went their the next night….this is a very pretty place with grass and  trees located at the base of the Fort Peck dam on the Missouri River….we walked to an Interpretive Center for the amazing story of the building of the dam

The dam was started in 1933 and it took about 4 years to complete. Thousands of men worked on it. It is the largest earthen dam in the world….over 250 feet high and 12,000 feet long….to build it, 4 huge tunnels had to be dug through rock and shale in order to divert the Missouri River. Then material was dredged out of the river bottom and other surrounding areas to make the dam…..millions of cubic yards of material were piled on several million tons of steel support beams driven down as far as 160 feet below the surface of the river to find solid material so as to anchor the beams….President Roosevelt came here in 1936 to make one of his speeches trying to fire up a nation in the depths of the Great Depression.

Here is the campground and a Pontiac circa 1952 (I think)….he had towed in a tiny vintage camper behind it earlier but I missed the shot

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Here is the dam from the campground below then from above….

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Leaving Fort Peck, continuing east on US 2 the scene changes dramatically as you near  the border of North Dakota…..Williston , ND is the epicenter of the hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) industry in North Dakota….we didn’t take any pictures and I don’t know how to describe it. The city of Williston is exploding…all the highways are inadequate and are under construction…there is no place for all the workers to live…great complexes of modular housing compounds are everywhere….they look like prisons or concentration camps…not pretty. Trucks and tankers line US 2 in both directions….carrying stuff we have never seen before….at one place we saw a line of specially built rigs of the CalFrac company ..each one had the largest diesel engine I could imaging integrated with a giant pump…

….the US Geological Survey along with ND Dept of Natural Resources released a new report and they now believe the oil reserves alone in the Bakken formation of the Williston basin area exceeds 74 Billion Barrels obtainable with current technology……I just read a great piece about this in National Geographic but to see it is amazing……the demand for workers is so great they can’t house them….last night in Minot, ND we stayed at campground that has basically become a “frackers” trailer park….satellite dishes….kids everywhere….this has been a boon for North Dakota……the state has one of the lowest unemployment numbers in the nation and has a surplus of over $1 Billion…

I love Montana…it is really beautiful …golden wheat fields dominate as far as you can see…western North Dakota is not quite the same but after Minot we went to Devil’s Lake for a night  and it changes

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