There was a building at the bottom of the dam at Grand Coulee that was part of the dam infrastructure. Looking down on this building, it seemed so in keeping with a certain generation of architecture. Concrete buildings were in vogue at that time and they were very functional and lacking in much in the way of aesthetics. Given that this was part of the work generation program of the Great Depression, maybe the focus was on function rather than form. I wonder what someone would do with such a requirement if they were commissioned to design such a building today.
There are a number of cranes that operate around the dam structure at Grand Coulee. With the scale of the dam being so large, it is hard to appreciate how big these cranes are. However, the road crosses the edge of the dam at the top and you go across rails in the road surface along which the cranes can traverse. This gives you some idea of just how large it really is. It would have been good to see one in action to give some idea of what it was lifting but that was not to be. Below is a wider view of the dam so you can see how small the crane looks in the grand scheme of things – disguising its true size.
There were many odd shapes on the face of the Grand Coulee Dam. With the water running down in parts and some of the structure of the dam breaking up the smooth face, it was possible to see some unusual patterns in the surface. There were many power lines strung across the water in front of the dam so these could distract from the shapes so I tried moving around to be between each of the lines. With the texture of the face of the dam it was possible to look closely at elements and have no obvious clue what they were.
The Grand Coulee Dam was one of my planned stops on my trip. I had been interested to see it for a while having read a little about its history. It is a bit of a trek from home so a specific trip was not something I had planned but, since I was going to be only an hour away, I seemed like the perfect time to visit. I drove across from Brewster and the route brought me in over the hills overlooking the town and the dam. Crown Point park is situated up on the hills so I made that my first stop.
The dam is enormous. The problem with structures that large is that it is hard to appreciate their scale. You tend to see them from a distance so you can’t judge them very well. Even so, from up on the hills, you weren’t left in any doubt that this is a big structure. I was the only one up in the park aside from a guy looking to go off-roading but, since it was a Friday in Grand Coulee during a pandemic, maybe that isn’t such a shock.
Dropping down in to the dam takes you on a road that crosses the edge of the structure itself. From the road you get a view across the top of one section of the dam. Then you drop down the hill to the visitors center. A nice park area sits below the dam and this was the spot I chose for my lunch break. Looking up at the two sections of the dam, you really couldn’t get the scale. I felt like Father Ted needed to explain to Dougal about scale (reference for a few people there I’m afraid).
I had seen some images of tour buses (when tours were being run) on top of the arches at the top of the dam. The buses looked small compared to these arches and, from where I was observing, the arches looked tiny. That was the only way I could get some comprehension of the size of things. There was a little water running down the face of the dam but there wasn’t much overflowing at this time of year so no great falls of water to watch. I guess the majority of the water was going through the power generation side of things. The dam is the largest capacity generator in the US!
When things are more normal, there are light shows projected on to the face of the dam. People gather in the park and surrounding areas to watch the light show after dark. I assume this is not happening at the moment. However, the lighting rigs are down on the shoreline in the park. I imagine it might be quite a fun thing to see.