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Photographs - Collections - 2013 - #2013-P-028

Title: John Long Garrison Dam Construction


Collection Number:

4 items

FOR REFERENCE USE ONLY. Black and white prints of the construction of the Garrison Dam along with photo captions and reminiscences of Richard Long. John Long was the Eastern Regional Service Manager for the Wooldridge Manufacturing Company (Sunnyvale, CA). Wooldridge produced motorized earthmoving equipment and attachments. Their Terra Cobra was one of the first self propelled motor scrapers in the world and they were put to work on the Garrison Dam Project. The conditions were terrible during the winter of 1947-1948 when John Long was working on the Garrison Dam.

The collection was donated to the State Historical Society of North Dakota by Richard Long on April 11, 2013.

Property Rights:
The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights to this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code or an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.       

This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.       


(Captions provided by donor)

2013-P-028-001 This photo was taken during the winter of 1947-1948. It clearly shows the horrific conditions that moving dirt on the Garrison Dam Project was in minus 35F temperatures. That is a coal seam above. These machines ran 24/7 and had numerous problems due to the conditions. S.J. Groves, Forkham James and others were the primary dirt contractors for what was to become the largest earthen dam in the world. It is now the fifth largest. Overall more than 66 million cubic yards of earth were moved and the Terra Cobra played a large role in it. There were problems aplenty with the Cobras including failed ring gear and pinion assemblies (dad came up with a neat way to prevent them doing some critical welding on a hardened thrust washer that the engineers said could not be done), broken steering arms and chains, bent draft frames, and transmission and clutch problems. He would leave our house in the Ford Coupe and drive to the site and would drive back about three weeks later. He was very skillful and kept the fleets running in these awful conditions.

2013-P-028-002 Another view of the cut. They used D-8 Caterpillar Bulldozers with pusher blocks behind the Cobras and the combination of pushing and pulling forced the machines forward into the frozen earth. The frost, rock, and debris made everything more than difficult. They are working in the lower portion of the cut (in the upper right hand corner of the photo) to the upper portion of the cut (in the lower left hand corner of the photo). It looks like a Cobra may have had a failure as the two men seem to be discussing something.

2013-P-028-003 Another view of the Garrison Dam Project in awful conditions.

2013-P-028-004 This unit was involved in a collision overnight as can be seen by the missing front fender, and the exposed steering chain and hydraulic tank. The crash twisted the draft frame too. When he got it running Dad was asked if it would haul a load of dirt. Dad said it would, however, the wheels wouldn't track; it would travel just like a dog. At this point the superintendent asked again if it would haul a load of dirt and again Dad said it would and stated his case. The superintendent said to put her back into the fleet and back to work as it made no difference if she ran like a dog.

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