When President Franklin Roosevelt’s signature authorized construction of the Fort Peck Dam on October 14, 1933, officials immediately began one of the nation’s largest New Deal projects. The promise of work on the 134-mile filled-earth dam brought as many as 50,000 people to the Fort Peck townsite.
Former college professors, hoboes, foreclosed farmers, and many others came from across the nation to settle here. The only thing they had in common was the need for work; the project employed nearly 10,500 men, who had lost their livelihoods during the Great Depression. The townsite that sprang up to serve these instant residents was designed to be temporary.
Instead, Fort Peck became a permanent community of about 300, and beautiful Fort Peck Lake is today a favorite recreation destination created from the 1930s Dust Bowl. The Fort Peck Hotel and Garage were among the “temporary” government structures constructed in the 1930s. Planners chose the Swiss Chalet style, popularized in the national parks of the 1910s and 1920s, for the town’s most prominent buildings such as the hospital, theatre, store, laboratory, and this hotel.
The hotel and its utilitarian garage catered to the many government employees and others who came to work, oversee, and inspect the building of the huge dam between 1933 and 1943. The hotel’s rustic timbers, rough-sawn siding, and dramatic gabled entry became a permanent fixture in the temporary-turned-permanent townsite. The now privately operated hotel, refurbished to its 1933 ambience, is a focal point in the community and caters to the visitors who come to enjoy this man-made paradise.