James River Basin

James River Basin

The James River originates in central North Dakota between the cities of Harvey and Fessenden and generally flows south-southeast for approximately 710 miles until it empties into the Missouri River near Yankton, South Dakota. The James River has one of the flattest slopes of any river in North America, and its drainage basin covers approximately 22,000 square miles.

The Jamestown and Pipestem reservoirs are located immediately north of the city of Jamestown on the James River and Pipestem Creek, respectively. Jamestown Dam is owned by the US Bureau of Reclamation and is regulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District when the reservoir is in flood control zone. Construction of the Jamestown Dam was completed in September 1953, and the reservoir is a popular tourist and recreation site year-round.

Pipestem Dam is owned and regulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District. Construction of Pipestem Dam was completed in 1973 and the reservoir also serves as a popular camping and tourism destination.

The James River in North Dakota flows through or near the cities of New Rockford, Jamestown, Ypsilanti, Montpelier, Dickey, LaMoure, Oakes, and Ludden. Since the complete of the Jamestown and Pipestem Dams, the James River has experienced only mild flooding in comparison to many of North Dakota’s other river basins.


For more information on the James River Basin, please call (701) 328-2752.