Graceful dominance : The Spillway
It would not be wrong to describe the Fort Peck spillway as mammoth. At the same time, however, it is stately, a gracefully dominating concrete structure which stands tall and boldly defiant, like a row of sentinels. Designed to discharge 250,000 cubic feet per second, the spillway is wedged between the edges of a man-made valley which came to exist when 14 million cubic yards of the dry, lumpy terrain was sliced up and hauled away. More than 800 feet wide with 16 monstrous steel gates, the spillway’s mile-long, concrete chute tapers to a width of 120 feet at the bottom of a 5.23 percent grade. The great stoney gates are 25 feet by 40 feet and weigh 80 tons each. Some 54,000 cubic yards of concrete and 26,500 tons of steel went into the spillway structures. If it seems odd that the spillway is located 3 miles east of the dam, the reasoning is sound. Engineers of that era weren't too keen on running a spillway over a 240-foot-high earthfill dam. The terrain at the present site was deemed most suitable, and the large quantity of floodwater it was designed to discharge was another factor in determining its location.