Grand Coulee, Washington

It’s been several days, leaving Glacier and getting here. No wi-fi where we were. Drove out of Glacier on US 2 through Libby, MT and Bonners Ferry, ID. Some really beautiful scenery along the Kootenai  River in Montana, but no place to pull off and take photos.

Not many RV parks in remote northeastern Washington. We stayed one night in a KOA near Newport, WA….

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Next day we drove to Kettle Falls on Lake Roosevelt thinking we’d stay there a couple days….the little RV campsite we found was swarming with mosquitoes  so we left yesterday for Grand Coulee. The drive on WA 25 along the eastern edge of the giant reservoir was very scenic but like most of the drive  into Washington you had to really concentrate on driving….. narrow with  lots of climbs and descents and turns…

One pullover opportunity here…… this is the Columbia river, called Roosevelt Lake, created by the Grand Coulee Dam….it is a boater’s paradise extending north all the way to Canada….

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Driving south the landscape abruptly changes from forest to desert. Grand Coulee is in the desert. It is stark but stunning, sitting down in this giant gorge …below are photos of the little town now called Coulee Dam and the dam istself….

Coulee Dam (below) was called Mason City during the construction of the dam and it was built to house the workers. We drove through this afternoon and the houses are very tiny…we saw one for sale for $85K by owner and it might have been 600 square feet,

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Note the huge pile in upper left….material that could not be used when making the concrete for the dam…moved here by conveyor during construction….

and the dam….which was the world’s largest concrete structure until China built a huge dam much more recently.

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The metal bridge was constructed in 1936 to get workers back and forth across the river…the little cluster of homes at the right end of the bridge was called “Government and Engineers City”. These home are preserved and many are very lovely. They were for the engineers and foremen.

The scale is immense….water to top of dam is 350 feet….200 feet of the dam is below the water and at the base it is 500 feet from front to back……almost a mile across

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Note the yellow crane on top of the dam…

Here is the crane from the top of the dam….it must be 75 feet tall, rated at 150 tons…….also, note the  huge pipes going up the mountain several hundred feet on the left…..water is pumped through these pipes into a viaduct and carried into Banks Lake which extends another 30 miles south for irrigation….this is the water source for the Central Basin of Washington…it would otherwise be a desert, now one of the most important agricultural areas in the US….

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Here are the pumps that move the water up into the pipes….we took an elevator down to about 40 feet below the water level where these giants work….during the 2nd World War they were generating electric power but now mostly are used to pump the water for irrigation…..electric power is produced at the other two power plants which are part of the structure

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Well, enough on all that….we took the dam tour and here we are at the top…

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and looking downstream from the top….the old iron bridge connecting  the two sides of the city of Coulee Dam

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Here is a late evening shot from our campsite…

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Today we drove to Kellers Ferry and what a great surprise that was….beautiful…..photos in the next post.

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