Grand Coulee Dam, Coulee Dam, WA
The Largest Hydroelectric Plant in North America
The Grand Coulee Dam is one of the largest concrete structures in the world, and is the largest hydroelectric station in North America, capable of generating 6,800 megawatts of power. It has a free visitor center, and free tours in a glass elevator inside one of the power plants.
The dam was constructed between 1933 and 1941. It’s 168 meters high and 1.6 kilometers wide. It consists of over 9 million cubic meters of concrete. In addition to power generation, the dam is used to control flooding on the Columbia River, and provides water for irrigation projects. The lake it creates, Lake Roosevelt, is used for recreational boating and fishing.
The visitor center explains the construction of the dam, how it is used, and the process of generating and transmitting electricity (for more on electricity generation, see Chapter 30). The visitor center also has some hands-on exhibits: you can try out a pneumatic drill and generate electrical power.
But the highlight of a visit to the dam is the tour inside the Third Powerplant. The power plant was added to the dam starting in 1966 ...