Belle Fourche, meaning "Beautiful Forks" in French, refers to the confluence of the Redwater and Belle Fourche Rivers. The gold rush to the Black Hills in 1876 brought many people to the area, but agriculture and livestock soon became the principal industries. Farmers and civic leaders recognized the need for a reliable source of irrigation water in this semi-arid region and petitioned the Federal government for funds to build an irrigation and flood control system.
Spearheaded by Hugh Cooper, the Keokuk Dam & Power Plant served as a prototype for many future power plants. The project harnessed the hydropower of the Mississippi River, between Keokuk, Iowa and Hamilton, Illinois.
The crest of the dam is nearly a mile long. The dam structure features 119 arch spans between six-foot-thick piers and a 110-foot-wide pneumatic lock. Combined with the lock, the dam reduced travel time for steamboats by nearly two hours.
This inertia dynamometer is used to test railroad wheels under controlled conditions that can greatly exceed normal service. It is the first and only railroad dynamometer to test track wheels using vertical and lateral loads, as well as thermal braking loads, at the wheel rim. It can also test railway car and locomotive axles.