Col. Lewis Pick

(1890 - 1956)



          A hot-tempered autocrat in the Army Corps of Engineers, Colonel Lewis Pick was stationed in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1943 (punishment from his superiors for botching the construction of a landing strip for the Army Air Force) when three successive floods inundated the city in the spring of that year. Click here for more on Col. Pick

          As floodwaters crested in the city streets, the diminutive colonel is said to have leaped onto a desk top and yelled to his subordinates: "I want control of the Missouri."  He then commanded every engineer in his office to drop all other projects and to work double shifts until they came up with a comprehensive plan to tame the Big Muddy.  The result, when paired with a plan envisioned by the Bureau of Reclamation's Glen Sloan, was the Pick-Sloan Plan, which, when funded by Congress in the Flood Control Act of 1944.  This legislation authorized the construction of five massive flood control dams on the main stem of the Missouri, effectively turning a thousand miles of river into a series of lakes.