Black Eagle Dam is city’s 2021 ornament

The 2021 official City of Great Falls Christmas ornament is the Black Eagle Dam.

The ornament design is selected annually by the City-County Historic Preservation Advisory Commission.

The numbered ornaments, designed by local artist Sheree Nelson, will be released Nov. 24 for purchase at the city planning department in the Civic Center, the Great Falls Public Library, Cascade County Historical Society, Cassiopeia Books, and Dragonfly Dry Goods.

The ornaments are $15.

10th Street Bridge selected as city’s 2020 ornament

City staff also typically sell the ornaments at the Christmas Stroll.

Prior year ornaments are still available at the city planning office for $5.

City’s official 2019 ornament features Milwaukee Depot and is now available

The Black Eagle Dam was first built in 1890, it was the first major hydroelectric facility in the state, and the long-distance transmission of electricity was still a problem being solved back east by Nikola Tesla and his peers. The dam initially generated some electricity for local use, but it also harnessed mechanical power for the Boston and Montana Company’s smelter. The company’s powerhouse had a capacity of 2,600 horsepower, which was transmitted about 2000 feet by long manila ropes strung along cast iron idler wheels. The ropes were then used to turn machinery in the smelter. Altogether it was like a huge, spread out watermill turning a millstone. Over the course of the next decade, demand for electricity exploded, and generating capacity was constantly ramping up to keep pace, according to the city planning office.

City Christmas ornament has arrived [2018]

In 1926, the original timber crib dam was replaced with a concrete gravity-arch structure and a new powerhouse was built to supply the Anaconda Copper Mining Company with an additional 10,000 kilowatts to feed its electrolytic zinc plant. Aside from some upgraded equipment, the dam and powerhouse have changed very little since the 1920s, according to the city planning office.