Pickstown, S.D. (KELO AM) - Pickstown will hold a special ceremony to dedicate their new museum On June 13, 2014. Pickstown which is located on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River and adjacent to the Fort Randall Dam and Lake Francis Case is one of South Dakota’s most unique and newest towns.
Construction of the town started in 1946 and was designed as a fully self contained community to house the many construction workers arriving to build the dam. In the late forties and fifties population surged to over 3,500. Named after three star General Lewis Pick who was the key architect of the Pick/Sloan Plan and the six Missouri River dams, four of which are in South Dakota, the town included a shopping center having a drugstore, general store, grocery store and a recreation center, theater, hospital, interdenominational church, hotel, school, railroad operations and many Corps of Engineers facilities.
Business concessions and other structures were in sites calculated to best serve the residents and enhance the community esthetically. It was a boom town with no ugly spots and not a single tumble down shack. The streets in the carefully planned community were all hard surface and clean and private lawns and public grounds were all neatly trimmed.
The school which opened in 1948 and closed in 1968 was one of the best equipped in the state. Today, most of the buildings have been removed and the town is home to about 200 residents who enjoy a resort like community with all the recreational advantages offered by the large Lake Frances Case.
The museum is the culmination of a nearly three year project by a group of early and current residents who were interested in preserving the history before it was lost in generational turnover. The museum is located in the Community Center building in a large room adjacent to the Rainbow Room and is part of one of the few remaining original buildings.
There are four major exhibit areas beginning with old Fort Randall which existed from 1856 to1892 and was a key contributor to early development of the territory and where famous Indian Chief Sitting Bull was held captive; a recounting of building the town; construction of Fort Randall Dam starting with the ground breaking ceremony in 1946 and through the dedication ceremony in 1956; and history of the school which was attended by over 1600 students. In addition, there are other complimentary exhibits.
The museum contains many vintage pictures and other memorabilia along with over 70 books of various records including many news articles on the early town and dam development. There are over 400 professionally done wall exhibits and a theater area to view several old 8 and 16 mm films of town and dam construction which have been converted to DVD’s. The museum contains over 2000 exhibit objects and pictures that have been collected from former and current town residents along with many vintage construction pictures provided by the Corps of Engineers.
Governor Dennis Daugaard has designated Pickstown as an official Statehood Celebration Community and the Town has designated the Museum Dedication and related activities as a 125 year Statehood Anniversary event. As part of the activities, the Corps of Engineers will be providing special open house tours on an hourly basis on June 13 and 14.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the start up of the first generator by a telephone signal from President Eisenhower. In addition, following the Museum Dedication will be park dedication ceremony for the town’s new playground equipment. Also, on June 14& 15 will be a Reunion for former and current Pickstown residents.
The dedication ceremony will begin at 2:00 PM on June 13 in the Rainbow Room with Tom Brokaw who was an eight year Pickstown resident during the late 40’s & early 50’s as the keynote speaker. In addition, scheduled speakers will include Lt Governor Matt Michels and Colonel Joel Cross, Commander of the Corps of Engineers Omaha District. Also, attending along with several other special guests will be Charles Pick, grandson and Francis Pick Dillard, daughter-in-law of General Lewis Pick. The museum will be open for viewing starting on June 13th. Over 500 visitors from around the country and surrounding area are expected.