23 August 2014

Stardate 2014.644

The third (straight across), left and right (far right)powerplants can be seen in this shot.

Grand Coulee Dam

Dams, love ‘em or hate em’, you have to marvel at the engineering, especially considering the age of many of the old and very large dams, such as Grand Coulee Dam and Hoover Dam. Although it’s good to see wind and solar coming on strong, I think their efficiency at supplying the masses is still a way off. It’s coming, but it isn’t going to happen overnight.

Grand Coulee’s first two powerplants, the left and the right, were built between 1933 and 1941. Remember using slide rules? Neither do I. The Third Powerplant was built between 1967 and 1974.

Third Powerplant

The newest Third Powerplant is across the Columbia from the visitor center.

Left powerplant (left) and main dam

The Right Powerplant is also across the river at the river right position.

The following Grand Coulee data is supplied by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation.
  • Largest hydropower producer in the United States
  • Generates more than 21 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year
  • Height 550 feet, length 5,223 feet
  • Contains close to 12 million cubic yards of concrete
  • Sends power to WA, OR, ID, MT, WY, CO, CA, NV, NM, UT, AZ and Canada
  • Left Powerplant main unit turbines create 315,000 horsepower (sum all turbines)
  • Right Powerplant main unit turbines create 165,000 horsepower
  • Third Powerplant main unit turbines create 1,873,900 horsepower (sum all turbines)
  • Total generating capacity is 6,809 megawatts

Power Baby!  Dams, love 'em or hate 'em, provide something our society would collapse without.  Most of the big power dams were built well before solar and wind were even at the embryo level.  Remember slide rules?  Me either.

One of tens of towers delivering electricity to the grid.

Woody Guthrie even got involved.

Rolling wheat fields of eastern Washington State.

Time didn’t allow us to tour the dam, as the stop wasn’t quite on the intinerary. I would like to tour it sometime, especially if it’s as interesting as the Hoover Dam tour. Back on the road and heading east, we hoped to make Missoula, Montana, by early evening. In between eastern Washington and Idaho is a lot of rolling fields of wheat.

Up next, the Missoula Smokejumpers!



  1. That was an interesting stop, and I'm so glad you opted to take that route. It would be fun to go back again and take the tour...

  2. I like dams, but there's always something a bit intimidating about them. The thought of all that suppressed power, and what would happen if the dam broke - very ominous. My parents and I visited the Grand Coulee Dam when I was about 13 - it was pretty impressive.

    26 songs ... averages out to a little over $10 per song. Hmmm. :)


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