Browsing Tag

eastern washington

explored places

Essential Services


No matter your position on the ongoing federal government shutdown, we all can agree that some things should never close for business. Certainly, the Grand Coulee Dam in eastern Washington is still up and running right now seeing as how it is the largest producer of electricity in the country and irrigates over 600,000 acres of  farmland here in the northwest.

The Grand Coulee Dam is also one of the largest concrete structures in the world.


photo courtesy of Farwestern / Gregg M. Erickson via Wikipedia

In August, while on a ramble through eastern Washington to Idaho and back, I took the 50 minute tour.


I was a bit awed by it. But not so much that I couldn’t pose for and take a few photos.


Looking over the edge is vertigo-inducing.


This mad scientist panel of switches and dials is obsolete but still resides in the inner workings, the pump-generating plant, a seven floor elevator ride down from the top of damn.

Security is tight at the dam, tougher to pass than at the airport (I’m pretty sure the underwire on my bra was what kept making the alarm go off since I had to take off every piece of jewelry, my shoes, and no bags allowed), and visitors see very little inside the dam itself. Still, it’s an impressive sight to stand atop it and realize it’s girth.


The public tour is likely not an essential service so maybe don’t plan your own trip to visit until our congress negotiates a solution to the current budget impasse. Next time I hope to catch the laser light show after dark. In 2014 a new light show will replace the less compelling relic that’s been running for 24 years.