David Brooks' Milltown Dam oral history project, 2009-2011  PDF  XML

Overview of the Collection

Brooks, David
David Brooks' Milltown Dam oral history project
2009-2011 (inclusive)
8 interviews
Collection Number
OH 428
The eight interviews recorded for this project from 2009-2011 describe the removal and remediation processes for the Milltown Dam located near Missoula in northwestern Montana. The discussion also includes community interests, environmental concerns and activism, as well as EPA perspectives and ARCO's involvement.
University of Montana, Mansfield Library, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library
University of Montana
32 Campus Dr. #9936
Missoula, MT
Telephone: 406-243-2053
Fax: 406-243-4067
Access Restrictions

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of Archives and Special Collections, the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, and The University of Montana-Missoula.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

David Brooks conducted this project from 2009-2011 as part of his dissertation research, which included the removal and remediation processes for the Milltown Dam located near Missoula in northwestern Montana.

The Milltown Dam was located about seven miles east of Missoula, Montana, at the confluence of the Blackfoot River with the Clark Fork River. Copper mining tycoon William A. Clark financed construction of the dam from 1904-1908 to supply hydroelectricity to his sawmills in Bonner. The Milltown Dam had only been completed a few months when a record flood on the Clark Fork River washed a ton of toxic mining sediment downstream, where it settled at the base of the dam. Originally the power produced by the dam was used by the mills; the communities of Bonner, Milltown, and Missoula; the street car; and even some areas in the Bitterroot Valley. In 1929 ownership transferred to the Montana Power Company. Montana Power Company was purchased by NorthWestern Energy in 2000.

Forgotten for years, by the late twentieth century the toxic mining pollution gained the attention of area residents, recreation enthusiasts, environmentalists, the EPA, and financially responsible entities. Different solutions were suggested and finally, almost a century after the flood, remediation, including the removal of the dam was initiated.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The eight interviews recorded by David Brooks for this project from 2009-2011, as part of his dissertation research, describe the removal and remediation processes for the Milltown Dam located near Missoula in northwestern Montana. The discussion includes community involvement, environmental concerns and activism, as well as EPA perspectives and ARCO's and other responsible party's involvement.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers are responsible for using in accordance with 17 U.S.C. and any other applicable statutes. Copyright transferred to The University of Montana - Missoula.

Preferred Citation

[Name of document or photograph number], David Brooks' Milltown Dam Oral History Project, Archives & Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana-Missoula.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Custodial History

Davide Brooks held the interviews until their donation to th Archives & Special Collections

Acquisition Information

Donated by David Brooks and each interviewee, 2009-2011.

Processing Note

Davide Brooks recorded the interviews with digital equipment, Archives staff downloaded the interviews to the Archives & Special Collections server, made CD use copies and transcribed the interviews.


David Brooks' dissertation, based in part on the oral histories in this collection, is entitled Restoring the "Shining Waters:" Milltown, Montana and the History of Superfund Implementation.

Related Materials

The Archives & Special Collections also holds OH 419, another small group of interviews related to the Milltown Dam and surrounding area.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Description Dates
OH 428-01: Interview with William Woessner
Sound Recording, digital, 655MB, Wav
Transcript, 32 leaves
William Woessner, Professor of Hydrology in the Geosciences Department at the University of Montana, discusses the geochemical and hydraulic study of the reservoir, wells, and the groundwater system in and around Milltown, Montana, prior to the Milltown Dam removal and the Milltown Reservoir Sediments’ designation as a Superfund site. Most of the discussion is focused on arsenic contamination of drinking water in the area.
22 September 2009
OH 428-02: Interview with Diane Hammer
Sound Recording, digital, 579 MB, Wav
Transcript, 27 leaves
Diane Hammer, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Project Manager for the Milltown site, explains her interest in the environment leading to her work for the EPA. She describes EPA funding and their prioritization systems which lead into the role of Milltown’s drinking water contamination and its vocal community in establishing it as a Superfund site in Montana. She tracks the project evolution through dam removal, clean-up and redevelopment resulting in Milltown as a Superfund success story.
OH 428-03: Interview with Tracy Stone-Manning
Sound Recording, digital, 1.02 GB, Wav
Transcript, 26 leaves
Tracy Stone-Manning, Executive Director of the Clark Fork Coalition, explains the interest in the environment and Missoula, Montana, that led to her position as the Executive Director of the Clark Fork Coalition. She briefly explains the history of the Coalition and outlines the environmental problems at the Milltown Dam. She offers extensive description of the story of dam removal, highlighting key factors in the Coalition’s campaign for removal, as well as the many people involved on all sides of the issue of removal. Stone-Manning talks about the aftermath of removal, the future of the Coalition, and the legacy of the Milltown Dam removal campaign.
3 June 2009
OH 428-04: Interview with Bruce Farling
Sound Recording, digital, 644 MB, Wav
Transcript, 19 leaves
Bruce Farling, Organizer for Trout Unlimited, discusses his role in the Montana Milltown Dam removal, especially his involvement as a writer for the Clark Fork Coalition. Farling discusses the negative environmental impacts of the dam which lead him to be among the first to propose the removal of the dam. He recounts the evolution of the project and some of the challenges it faced due to various perspectives on the impact of the dam and/or dam removal. Foremost, he discusses ARCO’s views and the debate and dealings with them.
10 June 2009
OH 428-05: Interview with Sean Benton
Sound Recording, digital, 498 MB, Wav
Transcript, 11 leaves
Sean Benton, partner in Partners Creative, discusses the advertising campaign which Benton and his company ran in favor of the removal of the Milltown Dam in Montana. Benton describes a number of different strategies they employed throughout the campaign such as billboards, bumper stickers, and TV ads. Benton also details the activities of the Clark Fork Coalition, the organization that approached Partners Creative to launch the advertising campaign. The interview offers insight into how people and organizations on both sides of the Milltown Dam issue fought for public sentiment.
9 June 2009
OH 428-06: Interview with David Schmetterling
Sound Recording, digital 709 MB, Wav
Transcript, 18 leaves
David Schmetterling, Fisheries biologist for the Montana State Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, discusses his work with fish habitats and fish passage issues for Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, and how his work influenced the removal of the Milltown Dam. Schmetterling particularly talks about native species such as the cutthroat trout and the bull trout, but also non-native species such as the northern pike. He also discusses the fish habitat created by the Milltown Reservoir and how the dam impeded upstream and downstream movement of the fish, as well as public awareness campaigns highlighting contemporary impacts of the dam on the fish in Northwest Montana.
June 2009
OH 428-07: Interview with Russ Forba
Sound Recording, digital, 704 MB, Wav
Transcript, 16 leaves
Russ Forba, Environmental Protection Agency Project Manager, discusses his specific role in the removal of the Milltown Dam as well as, more generally, the various stages that a Superfund project must go through. In his role as Project Manager, Forba describes how he mediated between the EPA, the state, and the responsible parties of ARCO (Atlantic Richfield Company), British Petroleum, and Northwestern Energy. Forba touches on the legal, political, environmental, and economic factors that affected each of these groups’ actions throughout their involvement with the Superfund project. Forba also touches on the various factors - including the issue of human health, the support of Judy Martz, and the presence of endangered species - that influenced EPA’s decision to remove the dam.
15 June 2011
OH 428-08: Interview with Peter Nielsen
Sound Recording, digital, 958 MB, Wav
Transcript, 40 leaves
Peter Nielsen discusses his initial interest in the drawdown process and water quality in the Milltown Reservoir in the 1980s. He explains the formation of the Clark Fork Coalition in 1985 and his work with that organization, as well as interactions with Trout Unlimited, the Montana Power Company, ARCO, and the Two Rivers Restoration Plan. Nielsen describes the unique public input, including Friends of the Two Rivers, into the Milltown Superfund clean-up, removal and restoration.
14 October 2011

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Environmental health personnel--Montana--Missoula County
  • Advertising agencies--Montana--Missoula
  • Advertising executives--Montana--Missoula--Interviews
  • Arsenic--Toxicology--Montana--Milltown
  • Dams--Environmental aspects--Montana
  • Dams--Environmental aspects--Montana--Milltown
  • Drinking water--Contamination--Montana--Milltown
  • Environmental health personnel--Montana--Missoula County--Interviews
  • Environmentalists--Montana--Interviews
  • Fishery scientists--Montana--Interviews
  • Fishes--Effect of dams on--Montana
  • Fishes--Effect of dams on--Montana--Milltown
  • Fishes--Habitat
  • Groundwater--Pollution--Montana--Milltown
  • Hazardous waste site remediation--Montana--Milltown
  • Hazardous waste site remediation--Montana--Milltown--Public opinion
  • Hazardous waste sites--Montana--Milltown
  • Soil pollution--Montana--Milltown
  • Women environmentalists--Montana--Interviews

Personal Names

  • Benton, Sean, 1966- interviewee (interviewee)
  • Farling, Bruce, 1953- interviewee (interviewee)
  • Forba, Russell W., 1953- interviewee (interviewee)
  • Hammer, Diane, 1964- interviewee (interviewee)
  • Martz, Judy
  • Nielsen, Peter, 1955- interviewee (interviewee)
  • Schmetterling, David, 1971- interviewee (interviewee)
  • Stone-Manning, Tracy, interviewee (interviewee)
  • Woessner, William, interviewee (interviewee)

Corporate Names

  • University of Montana--Missoula.-- Dept. of Geosciences
  • Atlantic Richfield Co.
  • British Petroleum
  • Clark Fork Coalition
  • Friends of the Two Rivers
  • Missoula City-County Health Dept.--Officials and employees -- Interviews
  • Montana Power Company
  • Montana. Dept. of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks--Officials and employees--Interviews
  • NorthWestern Corporation
  • Partners Creative (Missoula, Mont.)
  • Trout Unlimited
  • United States. Environmental Protection Agency
  • United States. Environmental Protection Agency--Officials and employees--Interviews
  • University of Montana--Missoula--Faculty--Interviews

Geographical Names

  • Milltown (Mont.)--Environmental conditions
  • Milltown Dam (Mont.)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Interviews--Montana
  • Oral histories--Montana. aat
  • Sound Recordings

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Brooks, David, interviewer (interviewer)