Pierre and Ft. Pierre celebrate 50th anniversary of the Oahe Dam - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Pierre and Ft. Pierre celebrate 50th anniversary of the Oahe Dam

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This day in history: August 17, 1962, the Oahe Dam was complete and dedicated by President John F. Kennedy.

Hundreds gather back near the dam for a tribute to celebrate the dam and its history.

"People don't realize that we are what we are because of the dam. a lot of the infrastructure in the community was because of the people that came in. It's a big part of our history," Mayor Laurie Gill said.

Mayor Gill says it's a historic day even after last year's historic flood. Without the dam, she says, the effects on Pierre and Ft. Pierre would have been unimaginable.

"We are in a drought right now. Last year we had unprecedented rainfall and flooding. It's something we have to be ready for. Things change in South Dakota," Gill said.

But, Friday, it's not about the flooding, it's about celebration.

Some even drove a long way to be at the celebration, just like they did 50 years ago, to see the president.

"I ducked underneath the rope to shake hands with President Kennedy as he passed through. I said 'I enjoyed your speech, Mr. President' and he said 'thank you, son'. They are memories that have been with me all these years and it's something special to a 15 year old farm boy," Roger Olson said.

"I wanted to see a president. Had never seen one before and didn't see one after. This was the only one, live that is," Bonnie Gorham said.

She even brought along the program from the dedication back in 1962.

"I like saving things that mean something and it has meant something so I kept it and told my daughter it'll be hers someday because she was here too," Gorham said.

"The fact that we can stand here and celebrate it and remember history, is a good thing," Gill said.

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