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Fort Clark Unit
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Pick Sloan Missouri Basin Program
General Description | Plan | Development | Benefits
General Description

The Fort Clark Unit of the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program extends along the west bank of the Missouri River for about 6 miles from Fort Clark, North Dakota, to within 2.5 miles of Stanton, North Dakota. The unit is designed to irrigate 1,929 acres of bench and bottom land bordering the Missouri River. The irrigable land of the unit is served through a system of four pumping plants, two canals, and a lateral system.

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The Fort Clark Main Pumping Plant is located along the steep bank of the Missouri River, near the upstream reach of the unit area, about 3 miles southeast of Stanton. This 30-cubic-feet-per-second plant pumps water to Canal B, which serves most of the land in the unit. A 7-cubic-foot-per-second pumping plant about 1 mile downstream from the main pumping plant supplies water to Canal A, to serve the lower bench lands in the unit. It is located in the pumphouse for a power generation plant and pumps water for irrigation that has been used as cooling water in the powerplant.

The relift plants, Nos. 1 and 2, are similar in arrangement and include motor-driven pumps of 5 and 4 cubic feet per second capacity, respectively. Plant No. 1 is located near the heading of Canal B, and serves 159 acres of land above the canal. Plant No. 2 is located near the downstream reach of Canal B and provides water to 162 acres which cannot be served by the gravity section of Canal B.

Operating Agencies

Operation and maintenance of the Fort Clark Unit is performed by the Fort Clark Irrigation District.

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Settlement of the Fort Clark Unit area began with the establishment of a fur trading post in 1820. In 1831, a fort was constructed at the post by the Federal Government as one of its strategic locations along the Missouri River. Pioneers followed the fur traders and hunters, and became the first permanent settlers in the area. In 1882, land was homesteaded near Fort Clark, opening a new period of rapid agricultural development. During the drought years, there was some emigration from the area, which resulted in an increase in the size of farm operations.


Surveys of the Fort Clark Unit began with public land surveys made by the Surveyor General in 1880-1881. During 1889-1891, the area was mapped as part of the Missouri River Commission`s survey of the Missouri River from Fort Benton, Montana, to Sioux City, Iowa. That work was done under the direction of the Corps of Engineers. In the summer of 1939, the area was mapped in greater detail by the Bureau of Reclamation as part of the Missouri River investigations in North Dakota. Those investigations were the direct result of an act passed by the 75th Congress, 3d session, authorizing the Department of the Interior to distribute electric energy generated at Fort Peck Dam in Montana. Irrigation developments were entirely lacking in the Fort Clark area. However, some attempts were made to irrigate adjacent vicinities, with poor success because of the lack of proper irrigation techniques and inadequate power for pumping. These circumstances prompted the early development of the Fort Clark Unit.


The Fort Clark Unit was authorized by the Flood Control Acts of December 22, 1944, and July 24, 1946.


Construction of the irrigation facilities began April 25, 1953, and was completed August 1, 1953.

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From the irrigated sections, hay, grain, and corn silage are made available for livestock feeding in the vicinity. Potatoes and grains are cash crops. Two major steam generation plants, utilizing the extensive lignite coal deposits in the vicinity, have been built in the project area. This construction has removed a large part of the project area from irrigation.

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Last updated: Sep 17, 2012