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Lake Francis Case, one of the most popular recreation spots in the Great Plains, is located along the Missouri River in south-central South Dakota. Lake Francis Case is one of four reservoirs constructed along the Missouri River in South Dakota; the other three are Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Sharpe, and Lake Oahe. Stretching 107 miles from the community of Pickstown to Big Bend Dam near Fort Thompson, South Dakota, Lake Francis Case offers a wide verity of recreational actives from fishing, camping, swimming, boating, bird watching, water-skiing, and hunting.
Authorized by the Flood control Act of 1944, Lake Francis Case was created by impounding the Missouri River. Construction of Fort Randall Dam began in 1946 and was completed in 1956 as a project of the Omaha District Corps of Engineers. The purpose of the dam was to provide flood control as well as hydroelectric power, navigation support, irrigation, municipal water supply, fish and wildlife management, and recreation. Fort Randall Dam takes its name from an old military post. The only remains of the old Fort Randall is the fort's chapel. The fort itself was named after Colonel Daniel W. Randall who was a deputy paymaster of the Army.
Lake Francis Case, bordered by rugged bluffs, travels through grassy prairie and rolling plains. Two national wildlife refuges are nearby, Lake Andes and Karl E. Mundt National Wildlife Refuge. Both are set aside to protect the area's natural resources, waterfowl, and wildlife. In the winter bald eagles roost in the cottonwood trees and can be viewed. Other animals to be spotted at the two wild life refuges are beaver, white-tailed deer, and a great diversity of birds.
Although walleye is the most sought after fish in Lake Francis Case, northern pike, perch, and smallmouth bass are also available for catching. Hunters can enjoy hunting many types of birds such as pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse, prairie chickens, turkeys and geese. Big-game animals such as white-tailed deer, mule deer, and antelope, can also be hunted. Hunting is permitted on all public lands around the Lake Francis Case except for developed recreation areas.
Fort Randall Visitor center located in Pickstown, South Dakota provides a spectacular view of Lake Francis Case, Fort Randall Dam, and the Missouri River. There visitors will find exhibits demonstrating the dam construction, cultural history, early exploration and natural history of the area, and more. Adjacent to the parking area of the visitor center are the Lewis and Clark wayside exhibits. They educate visitors about the travels of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Over 1 million visitors each year travel to Lake Francis Case. Campgrounds are managed by the State of South Dakota and have many amenities such as electricity, potable water, modern bathrooms, and boat ramps. Cabins are available at some of the campsites and are wheelchair assessable. With 22 recreation areas located around the reservoir, the Lake Frncis Case offers something for everyone.
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