Throwback Thursday: The Prairie is Our Garden

All information included here was borrowed from Generation for Generations by Stan Stelter.

In 1969, the film, “The Prairie is Our Garden,” was created. It was the first film Basin Electric had ever produced. The film gained national attention and received the “Excellence Award in Public Relations Achievement” at an American Public Power Association (APPA) meeting that was hosted in San Antonio, Texas.

“The Prairie is Our Garden” was written and supervised by Robert Feragen. Robert Feragen was Basin Electric’s information director and later became REA administrator and eventually East River’s general manager. The director and photographer of the film, Burdette Calkins, Basin Electric information assistant, was also the designer of Basin Electric’s logo. Fred Simonton, the executive director of Mid-West Electric Consumers Association, was the voice of the narrator. Watch the video.

The beginning of the film depicts the history of pioneer life. The pictures of pioneer life provided in the film were oil paintings by Harvey Dunn, a South Dakota artist. In fact, the title of the film came from one of Harvey Dunn’s paintings – a painting showing a mother and her two children picking flowers on a prairie with homesteads in the background.

Basin Electric’s previous magazine, Report, described the film as, “… giving a comprehensive look at the development of the Missouri Basin – the struggles of the pioneer farmers, the farm movements of the early 1900s, the role the federal dams have played in the development of the region, and the work of rural electric cooperatives in bringing ‘area coverage’ to farms and rural communities. Basin Electric’s role as a pioneer in the large-scale use of lignite coal resources of the Upper Missouri Basin is explained in the movie.” (page 48)


  1. DARYL HILL says:

    I had an opportunity, many years ago, to meet Mr. Simonton. He had the perfect narrator’s voice.

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