A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Grand Coulee Dam

I don't know how anyone who has not seen this before could possibly drive by without stopping.  It was awe inspiring.  The roaring sound of the water going over the spillway was wonderful.  The wind was whippin'.  The air was wet but not the kind of wet that you felt, just sensed.

I walked down to as close as one could get for another photo.  
It was louder and more impressive.

There wasn't anything to really give you a sense of how big the dam was.  It is over a mile long at 5,223 feet, stands 550 feet high and contains 11,975,521 cubic yards of concrete. That is enough concrete to build a sidewalk four feet wide and four inches thick around the equator...twice.  Who figures out these things anyway?  Finally I spotted employee's cars parked on the other side.
In the gap close to the water.

They give tours of the dam every couple of hours.  I thought that would be neat to do.  Then as I walked around the near empty visitor's center I overheard they had 90 people on the current tour.  It suddenly didn't sound like such a neat thing to do.  I could imagine all the hub-bub going on within the crowd and I not being able to hear what was being said.  I suppose I could plug in my headphones, listen to George Frideric Handel's Water Music and marvel at the machinery.  Here I captured the two tour buses crossing over the dam which gives another perspective as to the size.

A strange thing occurred while standing there watching and listening to all that water cascade down the spillway, I didn't have the sudden urge to go pee.  Facilities were there just in case.  I went inside and flushed a toilet just to see what kind of water pressure it had.  Normal.

Off to the left was this array of lights for a laser light show that would be given at 10pm.  That too would be neat to see but that's past my bedtime.  Oh but we live in the age of the Internet and YouTube.  Sure enough a few videos of the Grand Coulee Dam Laser Light Show are there. 
I think I may have been disappointed had I stayed up for it.

On the upstream side of the dam is Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake. You know me, my first thought was "Has anyone ever gone over that?"  Well really that was my second thought.  My first one when I first saw that wide sheet of water on the other side was that looked like it would be fun to slide down on. Anyway, back to the Internet.  Seems that the only deaths at Grand Coulee Dam were of those who built it.  77 workmen died in the construction, and four more died decades later in the building of the third powerhouse.

Yep, looking at the precipice up close gives you the willies.

These exceedingly large rodents were in the picnic area. They looked like ground squirrels but three times as big.  Almost big as a Thanksgiving turkey.  Must be all the junk food the tourists feed them.


  1. Those dams are very impressive to see indeed. That were a lot of workers who died at the construction site!

  2. I can remember an English singer "Lonnie Donegan" in the early 1960's had a song called The Great Grand Coulee Dam, kinda skiffle music. But I never pictured anything the like of your wonderful photos, very interesting post.
    All the best, Gordon.

    1. I remember Lonnie Donegan too, one of my favourites on "Six Five Special" on the telly!

  3. I've been to Hoover Dam but not Grand Coulee..... huge and impressive! Are the rodents in the last picture called groundhogs?

  4. Amazing! Looks like a groundhog to me.

  5. I have never been to this, but I sure as heck would stop and check it out. I agree with you about tours. Very nice photos and thanks for the info.

  6. Fascinating travel photos. I think that critter is a marmot.

  7. We've been here and did take the tour. It was really interesting even to our then 9 and 11 year old daughters, which believe me, was a tough sell. Great travelogue pictures, John. Thanks for sharing.


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