Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Grand Coulee Dam

This past weekend we had another informal family field trip to the Grand Coulee Dam in central Washington. We were camping in the area, so took the opportunity to visit the dam while we were over there. It doesn't tie in with anything we're learning about currently... but it was built in the 1930s as a Public Works Administration project, and my oldest daughter is studying the 20th century this year, so we will be to that time period in a few weeks.
The visitor's center had several interesting hands-on exhibits. The girls and their dad particularly enjoyed the virtual flying game with a joy-stick controller that let you zoom over, around, and inside the dam on the video screen.
My favorite part was the vintage publicity pieces and souvenirs on display. The cartoon map shows the area before the dam was built. We were camping near Steamboat Rock.
I wondered what all the carefully-labeled jugs were about. Apparently they had some ceremony in 1951 where water from all 50 states was poured over the dam as a symbolic gesture of something-or-other. I thought it was pretty funny!

What was most interesting to me is that I don't remember hearing of the Grand Coulee Dam until we first visited it several years ago, yet it is the largest electric-producing facility and the largest concrete structure in the United States. I wonder why the Hoover Dam is more well-known?

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