Black Eagle Dam
Generating capacity: 21 megawatts
Black Eagle Dam is a three-unit hydroelectric plant at Black Eagle Falls on the Missouri River, about two miles downstream from Great Falls, Mont. The units have a total generating capacity of 21 megawatts. (One megawatt can satisfy the average energy needs of 750 households.)
The dam is 753 feet long and 13 feet high. Its reservoir has a storage capacity of 1,710 acre-feet. The original dam and powerhouse went into operation in 1891; they were replaced in 1926-27. Black Eagle is classified as a “run-of-river” project because it can generate electricity using the water that flows down the river, without the need to store additional water supplies.
Black Eagle Dam is one of eight hydroelectric plants and one reservoir along the Missouri and Madison Rivers covered under PPL Montana’s Project 2188 operating license. Through this license, PPL Montana works with state and federal agencies and private groups to implement a diverse array of environmental stewardship projects to protect habitats on or near the banks of the Missouri and Madison Rivers.
For example, PPL Montana contributed $500,000 toward the design and development of Black Eagle Memorial Island and the island’s Rainbow Boat Launch. The company contributes an additional $15,000 a year to cover ongoing operation and maintenance expenses.
In addition, the company contributed $60,000 to a project to enhance public access to the River’s Edge Trail on the south shore of Black Eagle and Rainbow reservoirs.
Also downstream from the dam is the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail Interpretive Center, which features exhibits describing the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804–1806. PPL Montana contributed $1.1 million toward the center’s construction.
Nearby is Giant Springs Heritage State Park and Fish Hatchery. One of the largest freshwater springs in the world, Giant Springs flows at a rate of 156 million gallons a day.
Black Eagle Dam is part of the Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark.
Black Eagle is one of five dams that PPL Montana operates in the Great Falls area.
The others are Rainbow, Cochrane, Ryan and Morony — all downstream within 10 miles of Black Eagle.