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Great American Infrastructure: Grand Coulee Dam

Posted by Steve Anderson on Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

This is the eleventh in a series of entries celebrating infrastructure achievements in the United States.




What: The Grand Coulee Dam, located in Washington State and the largest hydro-power producer in the United States, is one of the top ten largest producers of electricity in the world.

When: 1933-1941, initial construction; 1967- 1974, Third Power plant.

Why: The Grand Coulee Dam is a gravity dam, which helps flood control and river regulation, water storage and delivery (including irrigation), power generation, recreation, and fish and wildlife.

Great American Infrastructure: Grand Coulee Dam

– Length: 5,223 feet
– Height: 550 feet
-Total Generating Capacity: 6,809 megawatts

Great American Infrastructure: Grand Coulee Dam

Interesting facts: The Grand Coulee Dam contains nearly 12 million cubic yards of concrete.  With 12 million cubic yards of concrete, you could build a sidewalk four feet wide and four inches thick and wrap it twice around the equator (50,000 miles).

The holes along the  Grand Coulee Dam are 8.5 feet in diameter — you could fit a standard size truck in one of them. They are used to discharge water through the dam when the elevation of the water in the lake is lower than the drum gates at the top of the spillway.

Woody Guthrie was commissioned to write a song about the Grand Coulee Dam, aptly titled, Grand Coulee Dam.  Give it a listen below:

Uploaded by on Youtube.

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