We left Couer d’ Alene early this morning; Brent came out to wish us well:
We stopped for fuel early; Washington welcomed us:
Only two more States to visit before we return to California!
We then set our across the countryside of Eastern Washington;
I’m not suggesting that Eastern Washington is boring… Wait – yes, I am…
We soon arrived at our destination: The Grand Coulee Dam:
I thought something was odd. This is not what I remember from when I was here in 1956… I remembered a long, wide dam, with a simple, straight-forward design. What was this strange dog-leg off to the left?
We stopped into the Visitors Center (Marcel Breuer, architect).
We soon found out that in 1967 the left 250′ of the dam was removed and the new dog-leg portion was added; it includes a third powerhouse, allowing the dam to be more efficient and produce more electrical power.
The Grand Coulee Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the Columbia River, built to produce hydroelectric power and provide irrigation water. Constructed between 1933 and 1942, plus the “remodel” from 1967 to 1974, Grand Coulee Dam is the largest power station in the United States, with a capacity of 6,809 MW. (Hoover Dam produces 2,078 MW…) It is 550′ tall and 5,223 wide. (Hoover Dam is 726′ high, but only 1,244′ wide…) The dam is the second largest concrete structure in the world, containing almost 12,000,000 cu. yds. of concrete. (Hoover Dam contains 3,250,000 cu. yds…)
Power from the dam fueled the growing industries of the Northwest United States during World War II. As the center-piece of the Columbia Basin Project, the dam’s reservoir supplies water for the irrigation of 671,000 acres.
The reservoir behind the dam is called Franklin Delano Roosevelt Lake. Creation of the reservoir forced the relocation of over 3,000 people, including Native Americans whose ancestral lands were partially flooded. While the dam does not contain fish-ladders, neither does the next down-stream dam, Chief Joseph Dam. This means that no salmon ever reach the Grand Coulee Dam, making the issue moot.
We joined a tour of the powerhouse #1, along with the treat of being able to be driven across the top of the dam. (The roadway atop the dam is closed to public traffic…) We saw the pumps and generating turbines inside the powerhouse, and had opportunity to take photos of the surrounding areas from atop the dam.
After the tour we walked across the bridge below the dam. It contained many photo boards describing the surrounding geology (fun for Lynda) and the construction of the dam (fun for me…).
After viewing the dam, we checked into the RV park nearby; it is Saturday, so: Football!
We took a break from football from time to time to walk about the neighborhood. On one such walk we found some wild turkeys:
In the evening we drove back to the dam; they have a laser light show projected onto the dam, but what I wanted to see was the release of eater over the spillways. We arrived about 8:15; the parking lot was mostly full, and people were milling about. At about 8:25 they shut off most of the lights in the area and opened the spillways. We could see the “whitewater” cover the face of the dam. Unfortunately, they never used the thousands of flood lights mounted around the dam to light up the water. So, while we could see the water, we could only see it dimly.
The laser show started. It was not much of a big deal. It told the story of the dam through giant speakers mounted about 6 feet from where we were sitting… The laser show was mostly the drawing of stick figures on the face of the dam to illustrate the story. We won’t be back…
So we returned to the Villa in the dark. An enjoyable time was had by all…