The Grand Coulee Dam, at 550 feet high, 5223 feet long, and weighing 24 million tons, is the largest power station in the United States, as well as one of the biggest dams built by mankind. The lake itself is 6,700 acres with 10 miles of shoreline along the banks, and dam goes in the water for at least 40 feet. The first waters flowed on the 1st of June in 1942.
Coulee City is the town around Grand Coulee Dam. When the dam was still a work-in-progress, it was called Mason City, and President Roosevelt visited both the city and the dam two times in his career as president. In 'Mason' City, there was a bank called Frank Banks, that is now the police city hall. It is still worth a trip though!
It was rare to get a job in the Great Depression, and even though building the dam was risky and hard work, many men chose to help because of its pay. 7,000 - 10,000 men worked on the dam, and each got paid $1.20 each hour, which was a lot, because an average job would only pay you 25 cents an hour. The project took 8 years to build, and, unfortunately, 77 men died while helping to build it.
A lot of machinery and equipment is essential to make a dam work effectively. The gates are huge; the drum gates are 12 feet high, while the coaster gates weigh 100 tons. They were used to stop the water from flooding the cities, and though they are not new (they were built in 1951), they can hold back a billion gallons of water a day. The dam itself works like a windmill, or more accurately, a water mill. Water goes down the pipe, and it turns the blades, which in turn, power the generators. Both powerhouses make a lot of energy, specifically 220 kilo bolts per house, and with the addition of the Third Power Plant, Grand Coulee Dam was truly powerful.
The treaties our country made for electricity and water after World War II greatly helped our nation and other nations as well. After the war died away, power had become a necessity for many countries and since Grand Coulee Dam is a great source, many countries wanted in on it. Much of our water goes upstream to Canadian basins, while a smaller supply goes to the South for agricultural needs. Luckily, Canada decided to make a fair offer. In exchange for power, the Canadian government would enhance our flood control methods and also send us a steady water supply.
Grand Coulee Dam is so much more than just a sightseeing spot, because it provides power and water, not just for our country, but also Canada, and without it, many people would not be able to survive. Franklin Delano Roosevelt endorsed and supervised the project, and I know he would be proud!