United States. Federal Power Commission

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Between the years 1898 and 1930, the Montana Power Company, and its predecessors, constructed a series of seven developments on the Missouri River upstream from Fort Benton, Montana. These projects, which include dams, reservoirs, and powerhouses, are the Morony, Ryan, Rainbow, Black Eagle, Holter, Hauser, and Canyon Ferry hydroelectric projects. In addition, two other developments were constructed on the Madison River, the Madison and the Hebgen projects. In December 1937, the Federal Power Commission began an investigation to determine whether the maintenance and operation of these nine unlicensed hydroelectric developments in Montana constituted a violation of the Federal Power Act. The act, passed in 1935, required licensing from the Federal Power Commission for all developments located in streams over which the U.S. Congress had jurisdiction. As a result of its investigation, the Commission requested that the Montana Power Company apply for licenses for its Missouri and Madison rivers hydroelectric developments. When this was not done, the Commission ordered a public hearing (Docket No. IT-5840) to be held before an examiner at Helena beginning November 18, 1946. The fundamental issue involved throughout the hearing was the determination of the navigability of the Missouri River. If the river was a "navigable water" of the U.S., then it was " . . . illegal for any person, state, or municipality to construct or operate a dam or reservoir for the purpose of developing electric power across, along, or in . . ." the Missouri River without a license. The Commission's case was based upon the fact that the Missouri was indeed navigable above Fort Benton and in order to prove it, diaries, articles, journals, clippings, and logs from early expeditions and steamboat travels involving the transportation of persons and property were presented. The Montana Power Company countered the Commission's case from the premise that all nine of its developments were constructed, operated, and maintained before passage of the 1935 Federal Power Act. Also, the company contended that the Great Falls prevented the Missouri River from forming a continuous interstate highway, commercial travel having never gone above Fort Benton which was below the hydroelectric development farthest downstream (Morony). However, more important in the eyes of the company was the fact that if these developments had to be licensed by the Federal Power Commission, the U.S. would then have an option to make all Montana Power Company property, including transmission lines, federal property. Joining forces with the company were the governments of the Montana counties of Lewis and Clark, Gallatin, and Cascade. These counties feared loss of considerable tax revenue from Montana Power Company for the transmission lines, dams, and other property. Also, each county had constructed bridges across the Missouri and felt the expense of licensing these bridges would be prohibitive if the river was determined to be a navigable waterway of the U.S. The examiner's decision (Opinion No. 170) came on September 30, 1947, stating that all nine of the Missouri-Madison developments occupy, "without authority a 'navigable water' or public lands, or both, and since all effect the navigable capacity of the 'navigable water,' the Commission has authority under the Act to require that they be operated and maintained only if licensed." This decision was the start of a long legal battle between the Federal Power Commission and the Montana Power Company.

From the guide to the United States Federal Power Commission Records, 1821-1950, (Montana Historical Society Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn McNinch, Frank Ramsay, 1873-1950. Frank McNinch papers 1925-1951, bulk 1925-1951. University of North Carolina, Charlotte, J. Murrey Atkins Library
referencedIn Samuel Moment papers, 1935-1974 University of Oregon Libraries. Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf United States. Bureau of Reclamation. Problem 15 : Central Valley Projects [sic] studies, 1943-1944. Water Resources Collections and Archives
referencedIn North Dakota Public Service Commission. Public Utility Division. Federal Power Commission case files, 1955-1982. State Historical Society of North Dakota State Archives
referencedIn Harry Billings Montana Power Company Collection, 1939-1970 University of Montana--Missoula Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Wallgren, Monrad C. (Monrad Charles), 1891-1961. Papers, 1929-1959 [microform]. Harry S. Truman Library
creatorOf United States. Federal Power Commission. [Federal Power Commission pamphlets, 2]. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Geological Survey (U.S.). Records of the Water Resources Division. National Archives Library, National Archives Records Administration
creatorOf Doty, Dale E. (Dale Edward), 1915-. Papers, 1939-1954. Harry S. Truman Library
referencedIn Draper, Claude L. Scrapbooks, 1930-1951. Univerisity of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.
creatorOf Bartlett, Louis, 1872-1960. Narrows Dam : [memorandum to Edward Hyatt concerning the construction and operation of a power plant by the Sacramento Valley Utility Company in connection with the debris dam at the Narrows of the Yuba River above Smartville]. Water Resources Collections and Archives
referencedIn O'Connor, Lawrence J. Recollections of a nominee to the Federal Power Commission : the beginning of service under three Presidents of the United States. University of Houston, M.D. Anderson Library
creatorOf Galloway, John Debo, 1869-1943. Feather River Power Co., monograph giving a general and detailed description of the Bucks Creek Project, which is project #619 of the Federal Power Commission / J.D. Galloway. Water Resources Collections and Archives
referencedIn Pennsylvania Water and Power Company. Records, 1896-1957. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Joseph C. Swidler Papers, 1931-1997, (bulk 1958-1977) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Gerdes, H. G. Safe Harbor Project, no. 1025, Pennsylvania : engineering report and analysis of actual legitimate cost as of December 31, 1932, Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation, Licensee, [1935?] / H.G. Gerdes. Water Resources Collections and Archives
creatorOf United States. Federal Power Commission. [Federal Power Commission reports]. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Consolidated Edison Company of New York, inc. Cornwall Pumped-Storage Project records, 1966-1980. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Bartlett, Louis, 1872-1960. Interference by Cresta and Pulga Plants with Central Valley Project / Louis Bartlett. Water Resources Collections and Archives
referencedIn Minnesota. Attorney General. Case files concerning natural gas rates, 1954-1979. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
referencedIn Edward J. Thye papers., 1938-1959. Minnesota Historical Society
referencedIn Thye, Edward John, 1896-. Edward J. Thye papers, 1938-1959. Minnesota Historical Society Library
referencedIn Homer Truett Bone Papers, 1932-1948, 1938-1944 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Moment, Samuel. Samuel Moment papers, 1935-1974. University of Oregon Libraries
referencedIn Sierra Club - El Dorado Project papers, 1970-1974. Water Resources Collections and Archives
referencedIn Seavey, Clyde Leroy, 1874-1943. Clyde Leroy Seavey scrapbooks, [ca. 1894-1943]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn New Mexico. Legislature. Legislative Energy Committee. New Mexico Legislative Energy Committee records, 1975-1977. New Mexico State Library
referencedIn Barber, Earl Huntington, 1883-1974. Papers, 1910-1969 (inclusive). Harvard Business School, Knowledge and Library Services/Baker Library
creatorOf New England Power Association. [Public utilities reports]. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Landis, James McCauley, 1899-1964. Papers of James McCauley Landis, 1917-1963 (bulk 1948-1954). Library of Congress
referencedIn Missoula Electric Cooperative Records, 1950-1979 Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Illinois. Governor (1973-1977 : Walker). Minutes of independent state, local, and interstate boards and commissions, 1973-1977. Illinois State Archive
creatorOf United States Federal Power Commission Records, 1821-1950 Montana Historical Society Archives
referencedIn Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. Utility Rates Division. Natural gas pipeline case papers, Federal Power Commission, 1941-1972. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Geological Survey (U.S.). Records of the Geological Survey (Record Group 57). National Archives Library, National Archives Records Administration
referencedIn Duncan, George H. (George Henry), 1876-1958. Papers, 1938-1951. New Hampshire Historical Society Library
creatorOf Wilder Dam (Vt.). Records, 1942-1950. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Drane, Herbert Jackson, 1863-1947. Papers, 1863-1947. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Seattle City Light Boundary Dam Project Records, 1933-1983, 1953-1969 City of Seattle SeattleMunicipal Archives
referencedIn Hampton, Frank Armfield, 1884-1957. Correspondence, 1918-1953. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf United States. Federal Power Commission. Report to the Federal Power Commission on the uses of the Trinity River, California. Water Resources Collections and Archives
referencedIn Butler, Geo. E. (George Edwin), 1868-1941. Geo. E. Butler papers, 1922-1939 [manuscript]. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf California Power Board. Report to Federal Power Commission on the uses of the Stanislaus River, California / California Power Board. Water Resources Collections and Archives
referencedIn Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. Formal case records: Federal Power Commission, 1937-1982. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Smith, George Otis, 1871-1944. Papers, 1894-1934. Univerisity of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.
creatorOf Elliott, Roy H. Amended resume of power project of the Yuba Development Company, no. 187. Water Resources Collections and Archives
creatorOf Bailey, O. C. (Olin C.). Statement of O.C. Bailey, chairman, Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission, before the Federal Power Commission : natural gas investigation, Docket no. G-580, Hearing no. 3, New Orleans, Louisiana. University of Arkansas - Fayetteville, University Libraries
referencedIn New Mexico Legislative Energy Committee Records, 1975-1977 New Mexico State Records Center and Archives
referencedIn Bartlett, Louis, 1872-1960. Central Valley Project power distribution. Water Resources Collections and Archives
referencedIn Seattle (Wash.). Lighting Dept. Seattle Dept. of Lighting operating revenue account books, 1935-1964. Seattle Municipal Archives
referencedIn Cain, Harry P. (Harry Pulliam), 1906-1979. Harry P. Cain papers, 1945-1950 (bulk 1948-1949). Washington State Historical Society
referencedIn Seattle City Light. Seattle City Light Boundary Dam Project records, 1933-1983 (bulk, 1953-1969). Seattle Municipal Archives
referencedIn Seattle (Wash.). Dept. of Lighting. Ross Dam photograph albums, 1938-1948. Seattle Municipal Archives
referencedIn National Hells Canyon Association. Washington, D.C. Office records, 1953-1958 University of Oregon Libraries. Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Washington Public Utility Districts' Association. Washington Public Utility Districts' Association records, 1924-1990. University of Washington Libraries
creatorOf Wing, L. S. Report on power from major federal projects / [U.S. Federal Power Commission]. Water Resources Collections and Archives
referencedIn Seattle City Light Superintendents' Records, 1918-2006, 1939-2002 City of Seattle SeattleMunicipal Archives
referencedIn Swidler, Joseph C. (Joseph Charles), 1907-. Joseph C. Swidler papers, 1931-1997 (bulk 1958-1977). Library of Congress
referencedIn Olds, Leland, 1890-1960. Papers, [ca. 1848]-1960, 1923-1960 (bulk). Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bailey, O. C. (Olin C.) person
associatedWith Barber, Earl Huntington, 1883-1974. person
associatedWith Bartlett, Louis, 1872-1960. person
associatedWith Billings, Harry, 1913-1990 person
associatedWith Bone, Homer Truett,  1883-1970 person
associatedWith Butler, Geo. E. (George Edwin), 1868-1941. person
associatedWith Cain, Harry P. (Harry Pulliam), 1906-1979. person
associatedWith California Power Board. corporateBody
associatedWith Consolidated Edison Company of New York, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Doty, Dale E. (Dale Edward), 1915- person
associatedWith Drane, Herbert Jackson, 1863-1947. person
associatedWith Draper, Claude L. person
associatedWith Duncan, George H. (George Henry), 1876-1958. person
associatedWith Elliott, Roy H. person
associatedWith Galloway, John Debo, 1869-1943. person
associatedWith Geological Survey (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Gerdes, H. G. person
associatedWith Hampton, Frank Armfield, 1884-1957. person
associatedWith Illinois. Governor (1973-1977 : Walker) corporateBody
associatedWith Landis, James McCauley, 1899-1964. person
associatedWith McNinch, Frank Ramsay, 1873-1950. person
associatedWith Minnesota. Attorney General. corporateBody
associatedWith Missoula Electric Cooperative corporateBody
associatedWith Moment, Samuel. person
associatedWith National Hells Canyon Association. corporateBody
associatedWith New Mexico. Legislature. Legislative Energy Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith New Mexico. Leglislature. Legislative Energy Committee corporateBody
associatedWith North Dakota Public Service Commission. Public Utility Division. corporateBody
associatedWith O'Connor, Lawrence J. person
associatedWith Olds, Leland, 1890-1960. person
associatedWith Pennsylvania Water and Power Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. corporateBody
associatedWith Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. Utility Rates Division. corporateBody
associatedWith Seattle City Light. corporateBody
associatedWith Seattle (Wash.). Dept. of Lighting. corporateBody
associatedWith Seattle (Wash.). Lighting Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Seavey, Clyde Leroy, 1874-1943. person
associatedWith Smith, George Otis, 1871-1944. person
associatedWith Swidler, Joseph C. (Joseph Charles), 1907- person
associatedWith Thye, Edward John, 1896-. person
associatedWith Wallgren, Monrad C. (Monrad Charles), 1891-1961. person
associatedWith Washington Public Utility Districts' Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Wilder Dam (Vt.) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Hauser Dam (Mont.)
Lewis and Clark County (Mont.)
Missouri River
California, Northern
Great Falls (Mont.)
Gallatin County (Mont.)
Upper Missouri River
Black Eagle Dam (Mont.)
Hebgen Lake (Mont.)
Madison Dam (Mont.)
Holter Dam (Mont.)
Morony Dam (Mont.)
Rainbow Dam (Mont.)
Canyon Ferry Dam (Mont.) [1ST: 1896-1949]
Cascade County (Mont.)
Ryan Dam (Cascade County, Mont.)
Trinity River (Calif.)
Canyon Ferry Dam (Mont.) [2ND: 1949- ]
Canyon Ferry (Mont.)
Subject
Transportation
Electric Utilities--Law and Legislation--Montana
Water resources development
Public Utilities
Public Utilities--Regulation--Montana
Montana
Steamboats--Missouri River
Electric power--Montana
Steamboat travel--Missouri River
Missouri River--Commerce
Missouri River--Description and Travel
Occupation
Activity

Corporate Body

Americans

English

Information

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