National Geographic : 2002 Apr
much when the Yankton Sioux families of my friends Peter Archambeau and Armand Hopkins were forced to give up their homes to make room for the lake that backed up behind the slowly emerging dam. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for seven years the work went on, creating a long, earth-rolled berm that closed off the river's natural channel and redirected the power of the Missouri through eight huge turbines to generate electricity for South and North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, and Montana. Then in 1956 work on the dam was completed, and families packed up and left town. We moved downstream to another dam, where my father had been transferred by the Corps. When I returned a few years ago for a reunion of the original popula tion, Pickstown was in a modest renewal as a retirement, hunting and fishing community. The federal government had turned the town over to residents, who incorporated as the state's newest municipality in 1986 and began selling lots to finance the community's minimal services. For two of the residents the circle is complete. When I was a boy, Roland Hatwan and Darlene Salisbury were one of the town's dashing couples. He was a ranch kid who went to work on the dam at 18. He's now 72, retired, and newly remarried-to Darlene. They rediscovered each other at the reunion, and she moved back to Pickstown from Cali fornia to share his leisurely life, which he describes as "going to coffee, driving around, and waiting for hunting season to start." Roland and his buddies gather for coffee almost every morning at a local cafe and bait shop owned by Cindy and Bryce Broyhill, emigres from Nebraska. Cindy figures about two-thirds of the business is related to fishing for walleye, smallmouth bass, and catfish during the summer and hunting for deer, pheasant, and waterfowl in the fall. Going nowhere fast with a flooded engine, the Vander Broek family yearns to hit the lake. "Everybody here has a boat," says Fred Kocer (top), who displays his love of fishing and hunting-and of his wife, Alice-at their home. "This Is paradise," he says.