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Articles written by Bert Smith


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  • Final two plaques bring schools together

    Bert Smith|Jun 26, 2024

    A pillar of rock in front of Lake Roosevelt Schools memorializes the evolution of the community, now displaying plaques to recognize two more schools that went before. A dedication ceremony in front of Lake Roosevelt Schools June 22 unveiled plaques to memorialize the contributions and achievements of Mason City and Nespelem High Schools, which would later be consolidated into Coulee Dam High School. The first plaque on the basalt column, added in 2017, remembers the Grand Coulee Tigers, whose...

  • The Grand Coulee Dam big-band era

    Bert Smith, Them Dam Writers online 2020|Aug 19, 2020

    In January 1950, a group of community leaders formed the Grand Coulee Dam Athletic Association to fund community athletic teams. To help provide funding, the association booked nationally recognized dance bands to the Coulee Dam high school gym. A member from the association had a close contact within the Music Corporation of America, which was the nation's largest booking agency for famous-name bands. What followed between January 1950 and May 1953 was then described as the "Parade of Bands."...

  • The 1952 Grand Coulee Dam Commemorative Postage Stamp

    Bert Smith, Them Dam Writers online 2020|Jul 8, 2020

    In August 1933 the Wilbur Commercial Club contacted Washington Senator Clarence Dill proposing a postage stamp commemorating the start of construction at Grand Coulee Dam. This request was denied in October 1934 by postal authorities who stated that the beginning of construction was not important enough to merit a stamp. In November 1951 a commemorative stamp was again proposed by Washington state's U.S. Sen. Warren Magnuson, who suggested a stamp be issued honoring the first delivery of...

  • Crown Point Vista, a forgotten dream

    Bert Smith, Them Dam Writers online 2020|Jun 24, 2020

    In 1946, a state park at Crown Point was proposed to attract tourists to the Northwest and Grand Coulee Dam. That initial park design showed a 320- by 220-foot state relief model and exhibition building, along with a 500-foot aluminum tower equipped with an elevator and topped with a rotating searchlight; estimated to cost $2 million. Work to build a road to Crown Point began in 1950 and the park property obtained from the government shortly thereafter. That initial design would subsequently be...

  • Scrip and a tragic ballet

    Bert Smith, Them Dam Writers online 2020|Jun 3, 2020

    Grand Coulee Dam and the Spokane's Golden Jubilee of 1939 The “Great Spokane Fire” occurred on August 4, 1889, destroying 32 downtown city blocks. Exactly 50 years later, Spokane would host the “Golden Jubilee” statehood celebration. For this celebration “Wooden Money” or scrip was produced with a value of 5 cents. Scrip was given to Spokane residents, tribal members, and workers building the Grand Coulee Dam. Three script versions were made and included pictures of the Dam, James Glover (Father of Spokane), and Curly Jim (Spokane Tribe). The c...

  • A WWII ship named the "SS COULEE DAM"

    Bert Smith, Them Dam Writers online|Apr 22, 2020

    With the advent of World War II, Kaiser Industries, part of the Consolidated Builders Inc. that completed the Grand Coulee Dam, began building ships. Kaiser Shipbuilding Company established seven ship-building locations on the West Coast, including one at Swan Island near Portland Oregon. Here they would build the T2-SE-A1 oil tanker. On May 16, 1944 the 62nd tanker was delivered and christened the "SS Coulee Dam." The ship sailed on May 20, 1944 and returned from service on February 10, 1945,...

  • The lasting legacy of Camp Columbia

    Bert Smith, Them Dam Writers online|Feb 19, 2020
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    As a child growing up in west Coulee Dam, our outdoor playground was built by the toil of young unmarried men of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was born out of the Great Depression in 1933 and was a voluntary public-works program of President Roosevelt's New Deal. Roosevelt's program put men of ages 18 to 25 to work on projects involving natural-resource development and conservation. The average wage was $30 per month, of which $25 was sent home to their families. With the...

  • The mystery of the concrete bunker

    Bert Smith, Them Dam Writers|Feb 5, 2020

    An abandoned reinforced-concrete bunker, built partially underground, sits atop an isolated granite mountain knob approximately a mile south of the Grand Coulee Dam; approximately 330 feet above the western shoreline of Lake Roosevelt. From September 1941 to August 1942 the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey would construct a recording seismographic station. The bunker would house a seismograph and associated instruments installed to detect possible earthquakes caused or initiated by the...

  • Silas Mason, Grand Coulee Dam and Secretariat

    Bert Smith, Them Dam Writers online|Nov 20, 2019

    In August 1934, the Silas Mason Company, headquartered in New York City, began building a new "all electric" town next to the Columbia River in eastern Washington State. The town, called Mason City, was named after Silas Boxley Mason II, who was the Chairman of the MWAK consortium that won the contract to build the Grand Coulee Dam. Silas was married to Suzanne Dallam Burnett, an accomplished thoroughbred racehorse trainer and owner. Suzanne owned Lexington Kentucky's Duntreath Farms and 1933...

  • There's gold and silver in them thar coulee walls

    Bert Smith|Sep 18, 2019

    In the 1930s, the coulee walls behind Electric City and Delano were being prospected for gold and silver. These deposits occurred near the base of the Coulee Wall, in granite, overlain by basalt. The land was owned by James O. Black of Electric City and Joseph Rosauer of Opportunity Washington. Rosauer was a Spokane grocer whose family would form the beginnings of the Rosauer's Supermarket chain in 1934. These men would form a mining company and develop a mine called the "Black-Rosauers Mine,...

  • Thanks for magical weekend

    Bert Smith|Aug 24, 2016

    The Coulee Dam All Class Reunion Committee and I would like to thank the Grand Coulee Dam area businesses and residents for hosting our reunion Aug. 5-7. Something very special and almost magical happened that weekend as 500 former classmates and teachers visited your small-town high school gym, where many memories were made growing up as young children and teenagers. I saw many tears of joy, many hugs from the heart, and many unending smiles from our classmates as they greeted their fellow classmates, many not having been seen in 40, 50, and... Full story

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