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Tuttle Creek Dam

Tuttle21.jpgThe Tuttle Creek Dam stands as a landmark of Manhattan, just a few minutes drive north of the city. Tuttle Creek Lake, created by the dam, attracts all varieties of recreation, from fishing, boating, swimming, and camping, to hiking and nature lovers of all kinds. A Kansas State Park with four areas for outdoor recreation surround the lake. Yet, the now vibrant outdoor attraction was not always a welcome, much less enjoyable, sight. The Tuttle Creek Dam was borne from controversy, nestled in one of the greatest disasters in Kansas history.

The plans to build reservoirs in the Missouri River Basin date back to 1928, and plans for the Tuttle Creek Reservoir began to take shape in the 1930s. Yet construction stalled, with preliminary drilling beginning in 1944. Two decades of plans were expedited in 1952, a year after a devastating flood struck the Kansas River Basin. The Flood of 1951 swept across the plains of Kansas, destroying residences, farms, and towns, reaching Kansas City. Total damages amounted to nearly $750,000,000.

The next year, construction on the Tuttle Creek Dam began in earnest. The Big Blue River Valley was never to be the same, as towns dependent on the river system dwindled and were swept away, if not by the flood waters they were swept under by the damming of the Big Blue River, amid waves of debate and controversy. The research in this collection details the accounts of the small communities that thrived or were trampled under foot with the development of the Tuttle Creek Dam. Click on the images below to read the stories of the people and communities that struggled to survive in the Big Blue River valley.