It seems as though I wind up doing something completely unplanned on every road trip I take. That’s part of the adventure! On my most recent road trip to Glacier National Park, my fiancé (now husband!!!) suggested we take a side trip to visit the Grand Coulee Dam.

Holy smokes. We went from the best that nature had to offer to the very height of human ingenuity. According to the Department of the Interior, this dam is one of the largest concrete structures on earth. It contains nearly 12 million cubic yards of concrete. It’s more than 3 times the size of the Hoover Dam.

Let that sink in for a minute. That’s enough concrete to build a four-foot-wide sidewalk that could then be wrapped around the equator. Twice. That’s enough concrete to build a highway from Seattle to Miami. Not to put too scientific a term to it, that’s a big ol’ honkin’ pile of concrete.

It also produces enough electricity to power 2.3 million households for a year. When it was built, there was a genuine concern that it would produce more electricity than America could handle. Heh. Now it helps power eleven western states and part of Canada.

For added perspective, the tiny little circles in the face of the dam that you see below are actually 8 ½ feet tall. You could stand up in them. It’s hard to look upon something so massive and really grasp its size. This is truly a feat of engineering.

There’s a visitor’s center at the dam, where you can see such things as the wheelchair that was provided for President Roosevelt when he came to dedicate the dam’s opening. You can also see models of the dam, and the heavy dive suits that divers had to wear. It’s really impressive.

So here’s the weird part. There’s no gift shop. In fact, when you drive through Grand Coulee, Washington, with its largest employer looming over it as it does, you find not a single place that sells souvenirs. We actually wound up stopping at a little convenience store out of pure desperation, where they had two very dusty postcards. One was yellowed and from 1970. So much for adding to my fridge magnet collection.

It’s amazing that something that took 8,000 people 8 years to complete can turn into something not even worthy of a t-shirt. We sure take a lot for granted in this country nowadays.


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4 thoughts on “Dam!

  1. Angiportus

    Just wait till you find out how the thing the dam was named after came to be. Try “channeled scablands” and “Ice Age floods”.
    Last time I was there I was so ticked off by Homeland Insecurity nonsense–e.g. the thing said I couldn’t even bring my camera bag–that I didn’t check out the slaunchwise elevator I thought I had read of. Well, who knows about the future, I might yet see my favorite coulee again and the dam that is near where it started, that has its name.
    Let’s both be glad we aren’t in the Southeast right now.

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