Black Eagle Falls

3798Black Eagle Falls, Great Falls, Montana. CLUI photo.
Great Falls Montana gets its name from five nearby waterfalls along the Missouri River, all of which have been drowned or altered by dams and power plants, including the one closest to town, at Black Eagle Falls. In the 19th century, this was the upper limit for steamships on the Missouri River, and a famous historic portage point, dating back to the 1806 visit by Lewis and Clark. In the late 1880s investors were drawn to the location, due to the potential for electrical generation and industry, leading to the construction of the Black Eagle Dam in 1890, followed by the others. In the early 1900s the Anaconda Copper Company built a massive smelter here to process copper from the mine in Butte,150 miles away. The plant, next to the river, and its 500 foot-tall smokestack, was a major landmark, until it was torn down in the 1980s.