Friday, August 21, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 20 - A Damn Big Dam

As an engineer, it is hard for me to pass up significant engineering / construction projects and when I’m within a couple hours drive of a major one, I have to pay a it visit.  The Grand Coulee Dam was constructed between 1933 and 1942 to produce hydroelectric power and provide irrigation.  These are shots of Roosevelt lake above the dam and I’m always amazed at so much dry land there is around all of that water – like the brown California hills that run into the Pacific Ocean.

To give you a perspective on what you are looking at, the dam is 550' tall and just 50' short of being a mile across.  It's 500' thick at the base and 30' thick at the top, so it relies on the shear weight of the concrete to hold the water back - unlike an arch dam such as Hoover.

This shot is from the web and shows water coming thru the spill gates in the middle.

Grand Coulee is not the tallest dam in the US as it is 220’ shorter than California’s Oroville Dam nor does it create the largest lake, as Hoover Dam’s Lake Meade is three times larger than Roosevelt Lake but when it comes to power production, Grand Coulee is two and a half times its nearest US competitor.  At 6180 megawatts, it is the largest electric power-producing facility in the United States and for comparison, it’s more than four and a half times the output of Hoover Dam and just a little less than TVA’s three nuclear power plants.  This link from Wikipedia is a very interesting read.

Notice all of the power lines leaving the dam’s three power houses.

The dams on the Columbia River and it’s tributaries generate 44% of America’s total hydro-power with an installed capacity of 36 gigawatts (36 billion watts).  These are some power lines headed east.

I had no idea WA farmers grew so much wheat but it often went to the horizon.

After the trip, the ladies went downtown to the Coeur d’Alene farmers market but at 96F, it was way too hot for me and the dogs.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


8/12/15 event date


  1. It is a darn big damn for sure. The wheat fiends are pretty and it looks like you can see for miles and miles. Had no idea it would be so hot there. Too hot to shop for me too...but I couldn't resist a trip to a local farmer's market either. I think you got the best of both worlds Larry. Stay at home with the dogs and send the girls to the farmer's market to shop for you. What a life.

  2. Very interesting facts on the dam thanks for sharing with us.

  3. I knew that damn was a big one but I didn't realize how big or how much power it puts out. That is amazing.

  4. Your wheels must be smokin' Larry. You have covered a lot of ground. Sounds like a fabulous trip.

  5. Larry, I was a little stunned to learn that the Columbia River system produces 44% of the USA's hydroelectricity! Impressive... We've been back up through that area and it was a little startling to us as well. Brown, water and wheat! Laurie has a cousin who lives up near Tonasket WA where the big fires are. The smoke has been so heavy in her place out in the boon docks that she had to go stay with friends. Her house is about as flame proof as she can make it and she's spent a lot of time taking out the dead grass around her place. Now about all she can do is pray... 96 degrees I'd be headed for the Washington Coast ASAP! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  6. I"m sure the ladies enjoyed the market, but I think you and the pups chose the wiser course of action in avoiding the heat.

  7. I'm catching up on my blog reading, as family visits followed by travel have monopolized my time. Boy, you sure know how to move. No grass growing under your wheels. I appreciate the road info you share and I love your photo of momma deer with the two fawns in a previous post. Since we've never been to the PNW I'm looking forward to all you have to share. Ingrid (LiveLaughRV)

  8. It's a huge dam. I love the photo of the red barn - pretty shot.

  9. Love the photo of the farmhouse and red barn, Larry! 96 degrees? Ouch!


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