Baldhill Dam – Our Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway Road Trip Continues

Valley City, North Dakota.

Our third stop on the Sheyenne Valley Scenic Byway is just west of the Mel Rieman Recreational Area featured here a couple of weeks ago. There are placards placed on both the east and west side of the Baldhill Dam, an earthen and concrete structure built in 1951. The 1800-foot (549 m) long, 60-foot (18 m) tall dam created Lake Ashtabula, a 27-mile (47 km) long lake on the Sheyenne River. Constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it’s purpose is for flood control and water storage for irrigation.

The blue arrow on the map above shows that we have barely started on our journey south toward Lisbon. We stopped at most of the sites along the way, but won’t be featuring every one in a separate post. In fact, we’ll be leaving some sites undocumented for you to discover when you take this byway journey yourself.


The view of the west side, downstream shows that the spillway is in use as the reservoir was full when this photo was captured in early Spring. The dam is an interesting site, but like the Mel Rieman Recreational Area, the other six recreational areas around the lake are probably more fun. The 5234 acre lake is also a beacon for fishermen with walleye, northern pike, white bass, perch and bullheads in plentiful supply.

At the base of the spillway, many American White Pelicans were busy cavorting in the shallow water. I used my long telephoto to reach into the spillway as it doesn’t look like a safe place to be walking. I did notice something I thought was unusual about what I saw when I zoomed in to view the pelicans through my 300 mm lens.

Notice the large bump on the beak of the pelican in the shot above. It appeared that all of the pelicans had the bump. A quick search via Google told me the secret. That prominence appears on both male and female pelicans during mating season. When mating season is over, the bump disappears.

Having just returned from a 3200-mile (5150 km) road trip, we crossed paths with other scenic byways in Colorado and elsewhere. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to check any of them out on this trip. Rest assured, we will visit more as time allows. Next on our tour of the Sheyenne Valley Scenic Byway, we will visit the churches along the way. More to come in a couple of weeks.

John Steiner

2 thoughts on “Baldhill Dam – Our Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway Road Trip Continues

  1. What a trip…. I had no idea about the beak bump, never seen one before. Thank you once again for the educational and always informative blog post! We live vicariously through your travels.

  2. Thank you for a smart and visually interesting introduction to an a part of the country I am totally unfamiliar with. Such an interesting detail on those pelicans. Great photo essay JOhn. Thank you.

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