History of the Dike / levee ?
Posted by ringin10 (+75) 8 years ago
With all the talk about the dike and flooding, etc. I was just curious what the history behind the dike is.

When was it built? Was the original river diverted? Was there ever a big flood in Miles City that brought on the building of it?

Again, I was just curious.
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Posted by nevets (+357) 8 years ago
Sparks my curiousity also. Does Amorette have any of her fun facts on this topic? Lol
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+9723) 8 years ago
I think it used to flood all the time. Here's a photo from Recollections of Old Milestown:



And a map of where the river and confluence used to be:



http://milescity.com/hist...3-3000.jpg
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Posted by J&J (+348) 8 years ago
DQ used to have an aerial picture on the wall of a flodd from the 50's.
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Posted by Bill Zook (+491) 8 years ago
The river chronically flooded in the 1800s of which I have a number of pictures. Mostly because of the slough system that surrounded Miles City. Vestiges of them can be seen today north of the Garfield school, on 7th street where Houts' fencing operation is located and the entry into the Town and Country Club. My mother in law lived east of the old hospital in 1912, and had to walk over a foot bridge at what we call the Leighton Blvd. crossing north of the tracks. I suspect that was a vestige of the slough that made up the old Bowl on the east side of the high school. Whether the swimming pool and pond that are divided by Main St. were an original part of the Tongue River or merely a slough is not known to me.

When I started teaching Miles City in the mid '60s. there were three aerial photos of about the 1920s judging by the vehicles. You could see by how high the trees were where the sloughs ran at one time. To my knowledge those have been lost, sadly.
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Posted by David Schott (+14763) 8 years ago
That old "bird's eye view" map Larry posted a link to has amazing detail. You can clearly see the slough that formed the high school bowl. Anyone familiar with the 200 block alley between S. Custer Ave. and S. Jordan Ave. (which is next to the Lincoln School "extended playground" area) knows that alley still shows evidence of being a slough.

I would be curious to know how these old "bird's eye" view maps were done. The mapmaker just conceptualized how the town would look based on his knowledge of the town's layout? That's impressive work.
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Posted by David Schott (+14763) 8 years ago
Oh, and I'm pretty sure you can see Amorette and Steve's house on that 1883 map. That's pretty cool.
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Posted by Bill Zook (+491) 8 years ago
David prompts my memory of a depression behind our house at 17 S. Strevell. While we lived there we played in that "bowl" and then Charley Allen, then sheriff, bought the property. He had it filled in and built an apartment house facing onto the first block of S. Merriam.
I will add a note to my previous posting. I worked for Miles City Sand and Gravel the summers of '67 and '68 located at the foot of the bridge where the trucking firm is now. We participated in a voluntary raising of the dike following the spring flood on Tom Randall's property at the end of Montana.
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Posted by Gomer (+38) 8 years ago
I thought what everyone calls the slough now days used to be part of one of the Tongue's channels. The birds eye view clearly shows that the tongue forked off 2 directions creating what is known as the island. Which now consists of everything between the Tongue and the Yellowstone and what is now known as the slough. You can see why it is called the island. I used to know several old people back in the 70's that always called this area as the island. They also told me that I believe in the 20's or 30's they diverted the Tongue to the channel that it is in now which started at the NP bridge and the bridge on Pacific and pretty much went straight north to the river and the dog leg between the railroad and the bridge on main is now the pool and boat pond and where the settling ponds for the pool was part of the old channel also. The diversion was done, I was told, to help keep ice from jamming on the Tongue at the dog leg thus creating flooding on the Tongue on the south side of town.

The dike was built as flood control by all donated time and material. The reason why the Corp of Engineers has such a problem with the dike is that it was not and is not built to their standards but has held back many years of high water for Miles City unlike the dikes and levies that the corp has built on many rivers that did not with stand flooding ie the Mississippi river floods that we hear about almost evrey year. Don't know if this is all true but if you look at old pictures it makes sense.

[This message has been edited by Gomer (8/30/2011)]
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+14053) 8 years ago
Interesting discussion, and thank you Larry for posting that great map.

To first answer Dave's question, I think that the mapmaker may have climbed a high point nearby such as Carbon Hill, made a map with an alidade, then rotated the perspective to get the "Birds Eye View", for the novelty effect (to sell maps).

I agree with Gomer....count me one of those who always thought the slough was the old Tongue River channel. This map shows it to be...well, a slough.

What would be great if some historian-type would go down to the NRCS office and scan their old aerial photos of MC throughout the years, and post it here. Or if some computer savvy type could do the same from his chair. The NRCS generally has aerial photographs about 6-12 years apart in time, and that would really show how the re-routing of the Tongue occurred over time.
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+14053) 8 years ago
No....that was the engineer in me. Dave was right the first time.

Bird's-eye-view maps are drawings that depict aerial views of entire cities or towns. They have a distorted, yet charming, perspective since the artists combined factual elements with a leap of imagination. These maps were popular from the 1860s until the development of aerial photography around 1920.

Small settlements may be depicted only once in small, simply colored maps. Large cities may be represented by several, more elaborate maps.

Bird's-eye-view maps were sold to local residents who expected the map of their city or village to be presented as thriving and prosperous. Artists added details such as smoke streaming from factory chimneys, ships sailing the rivers or harbors, and railroad engines busily hauling freight.

The maps were expected to be accurate. Street names had to be correct and buildings meticulously represented. Details were important, down to the number of doors and windows, and their placement, in individual homes.

Bird's-eye-view maps are valuable resources for local history and architectural research, as well as providing a uniquely American vision of the urban landscape.
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Posted by Mayor (+131) 8 years ago
According to our records at City Hall, though several repairs reaching back to 1944 were completed on the structure by local contractors, the levee was a New Deal project authorized by the Works Progress Administration http://en.wikipedia.org/w...nistration in 1936. The WPA was also responsible for building the Fort Peck dam in 1933, Denton Field in 1940, and several irrigation districts throughout the region. There were likely several hundred Miles City locals who were put to work on these New Deal projects.

We should imagine the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (stimulus program) on steroids for an idea as to how important the WPA was to lifting the country out of the Great Depression before we entered WWII.
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Posted by Jim Birkholz (+192) 6 years ago
Wasn't the rock wall and the archways of the cemetery a WPA project as well? It's what I first think of when I hear the term.
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