If superlatives are your thing, come out west to the Grand Coulee Dam.
Located on the Columbia River, Grand Coulee is a concrete dam built to produce hydroelectric power and provide irrigation water.
A visit is essential, everything is disproportionate!
Back during the Great Depression, the United States Government stepped up and damed the Columbia. They put who knows how many thousands of men to work building a 500′ tall, mile wide concrete structure. The dam spanned the river and turned its raging course into a 127-mile-long bathtub. Native salmon runs gave way to sunbathing and waterskiing.
The dam is the world’s second most powerful, which at close to 80 years old, fills one with a sense of abiding respect. It appears like some ancient earthwork from another civilization–a great, horizontal plane aligned across the face of a canyon. The detritus from its construction, a pile of sand 70′ tall and 4 blocks in diameter still lies downstream. The high schools track team punishes their athletes by making them run to its top.
Power from the dam originally fueled infrastructure for the Second World War–bombers, submarines, and the world’s first nuclear bomb. Today, The Grand Coulee generates enough electricity to light the entire Puget Sound region–all without releasing a single carbon atom into the atmosphere. Water, pumped up hill, fills a 20-mile-long reservoir, and irrigates 1,000 square miles of Washington wheat and alfalfa fields, turning the desert into an oasis.
For residents of the northwest, Grand Coulee is one of many hydro projects that keep electricity inexpensive, and that provided the backbone for the region to grow into what it is today.