Tuesday, August 4

Sunday, July 16

Ground was broken for the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state. Like other big infrastructure projects in the US, the idea for this one had been around for decades, and was subject to a lot of debate. A low dam would be cheaper, faster to build, and had the support of business interests in Western Washington. A taller dam would generate more electricity, allow for the irrigation of a huge part of central Washington, and had the support of Washington, D.C. (and the president). The “ditchers” lost and the dam was begun with a base as high as the low dam, but strong enough to support the high dam when and if it was finally approved. Which it was.
The site included a lot of tribal land, but there was a depression on, and no one paid much attention to tribal complaints. Like the fact that there was no provision to allow salmon up above the dam. And the fact that the new lake would block access to foraging lands. But cheap electricity!
I’ve cheated a little and used a picture from 1934 showing early construction at the site. In 1933 most of what was going on would not be visible- land surveys, test bores and the like. The scale model shown was for the original High dam, which doesn’t look exactly like the dam we can see today.

back it up here.

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