Friday, July 27, 2007

Bonneville Lock and Dam

Recently, we have visited Bonneville, Rocky Reach and Grand Coulee Dams. Some random, rambling thoughts:

Life contains a series of compromises. The “outdoors” person that I am recoils at the idea of a huge, man-made structure stuck in the middle of the Columbia River. On the other hand, the very fact that I am able to post on this blog is due to electricity, some of which is likely generated at that huge, man-made structure stuck in the middle of the Columbia River.

I am constantly amazed at how smart some people are, engineers in particular. How do you even start to figure out how to build a dam? Not the generic idea, but the actual "what do we do first?" One of the treats of visiting the Rocky Reach Dam (just outside Wenatchee, WA) is the 60's vintage movie of the dam construction. We watched the steps, but it did little to dispel the wonder of the planning and coordination involved (and how things change, even in video production).

Who figured out how to build the giant turbines that create the power? What about the locks—isn't that amazing? So I begrudgingly visit and admire these huge, man-made structures in the middle of the river.

The US Army Corps of Engineers operates and maintains the Bonneville Dam. Recently opened for public viewing is the navigation lock.

To get to the Bonneville Dam, take Interstate 84 through the Columbia Gorge to exit 40, follow the signs. More information available here.

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