Creator: Balgord, O. P. (Oscar Peter), 1885-1974

Provenance Note: The O.P. Balgord papers were donated to Montana State University by Robert Dunbar of Bozeman, Montana in 1976. In 1979 this collection was reported to the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections and assigned control number 79-624.

Historical Note: Oscar Peter Balgord was born on January 16, 1885. He homesteaded north of Lavina (Golden Valley County) Montana and married Emily Lang in 1911. Balgord eventually became a sales clerk and automobile dealer in Lavina and was elected to the Montana legislature as a representative from 1933 to 1939 and a senator from 1941 to 1966. He also served on the State Water Board and was a primary backer of the Deadman's Basin Water Project. The project consists of a diversion canal from the Musselshell River into a natural basin where an earthen dam forms a reservoir and two outlet canals provide irrigation water to users in Wheatland, Golden Valley, and Musselshell counties. The project was begun in 1934 by the federal government and completed in 1941 with the active involvement of the Montana State Water Conservation Board and other state agencies. Balgord considered his work on the project and statewide water policy to be his main legislative achievements before his death in Billings, Montana on October 30, 1974.

Content Description Note: The Balgord papers consist of letters, speeches, press releases, clippings, and legislative memoranda mostly dealing with Montana water policy and Balgord's involvement with related legislation. Particularly prominent are documents discussing the Deadman's Basin Project, the Montana legislature's hearing on water conservation, and three telegrams from United States Senator Burton K. Wheeler. The documents have been arbitrarily arranged in subject folders created either by Balgord or Robert Dunbar, the person to whom Balgord gave the material before its donation to Montana State University. Sometime in the 1970s MSU library personnel calendared the contents of the folders and that listing has been preserved as written.


Folder 1: Montana Water Conservation Board

A public hearing about requests for funds, 1949
O. P. Balgord press release, January 20, 1951
Joint meeting of the Senate and House Committees on Water Conservation, 1951
O.P. Balgord speech, February 12, 1953
Clipping: Water Conservation Program Praised by Balgord in Reclamation Publication, 1954
O.P. Balgord speech, January 1955
letter from Fred E. Buck, State Engineer, to Senator Balgord, Feb. 4, 1953 (page two missing)
Senate Committee hearing on Irrigation and Water Conservation, January 24 and 28, 1959
Fragments: Senate seating chart, page from another undated Balgord speech

Folder 2: Ground Water policy

Supply installations, by A. G. Fiedler and G. L. McGuinness,1948, (Ground water problems and their relation to army water supply)
3 early drafts of the Ground Water Codes discussed by the Montana Legislature in the 1950s
Letter from S. L. Groff, Ground Water and Fuels Branches of the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, to Senator Gordon McGowan, Jan. 11, 1961
Letter from Fred E. Buck, State Engineer, to 0. P. Balgord, Feb. 5, 1953
Blank form dated 1961 "Declaration of Vested Ground Water Rights"
Clipping: State Water Needs Under Study. Billings Gazette, Dec. 18, 1968

Folder 3: Deadmans Basin Project

Roundup Record Tribune May 8, 1958 (feature story about the project)
Chart, amount per acre foot of payments on irrigation projects, 1944-1950
3 telegrams from Senator Burton K. Wheeler about application and allotment of funds for the Deadman's Basin Project under Works Progress Administration
Reconstruction Finance Corporation Resolution; Docket n. Ref. 1071, 1940. Funding for the Deadman's Basin Project

Folder 4: Water Conservation Board

Montana Legislature,1963. Senate Bill n. 176: "An Act Creating a Dept. of Resource Development," sponsored by Gerard, Balgord, McGowan, Brenner, Shaw, Huntley, Hilling and McElwain

Folder 5: Montana Reclamation Association

"The Future of our State Reclamation Program", speech by D. P. Fabrick at annual meeting, Oct. 4, 1962
Letter from W. J. Hagen, about organization dues, June 29, 1962

Folder 6: Senate Committee on Water Conservation

Minutes of the Senate Committee on Water Conservation, and Flood Control, 1951 session of the State Legislature of Montana. The minutes were in the possession of Senator O. P. Balgord, Chairman of the Committee. This is a copy of the original made in the MSC Registrar's Office by Martha Hawksworth.

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Updated: 7/3/13