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North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department

Rock Plaque at Grahams Island

Grahams Island

To utilize the water backed up by the Garrison Dam, in 1965 Congress authorized the Garrison Diversion project. The project included plans to divert water to eastern North Dakota for agricultural, municipal, industrial and recreational needs. Another part of the project was the stabilization of water levels and improvement of water quality in Devils Lake (a segment of the plan that has since been de-authorized). As part of the project, several prime recreational areas associated with the construction of a canal route were identified, including those on Devils Lake. The Garrison Diversion Conservancy District, working with the Bureau of Reclamation, established two bi-county parks- Ziebach Pass Recreational Area (now called Grahams Island State Park) and Black Tiger Bay. The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department took over management of these areas in 1988 along with two new areas; The Narrows and Shelvers Grove Recreation Areas. Due to rising lake levels the past 20 years, only Grahams Island State Park remains operational.

The plague on this rock is in honor of Sivert W. Thompson who is often regarded as the Father of the Garrison Diversion. He was born and raised on a farm located on the shores of Devils Lake. Throughout his lifetime Thompson promoted the diversion of Missouri River water for multiple uses. He was also committed to finding a means of replenishing and stabilizing Devils Lake. In the 1930s Thompson hosted Franklin D. Roosevelt during the President’s visit to see North Dakota’s severe drought conditions. Later he was part of the dedication of the Garrison Dam by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953. Sivert Thompson was instrumental in the authorization of the Garrison Diversion Project which ultimately led to the creation of the Devils Lake State Park system in 1988.

Grahams Island State Park is located 10 miles west of Devils Lake, ND on Highway 19, then five miles south on Grahams Island Road.