News, views and advertising of the Grand Coulee Dam Area

Articles written by Dan Bolyard


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  • The mighty Paul Bunyan

    Dan Bolyard, Them Dam Writers online 2020|Sep 23, 2020

    Construction was started on October 13, 1938 of the first boat to navigate what would become Lake Roosevelt. The project was started on the east shore of the forebay, just above the dap. It was to be 64 feet long, with a 24-foot beam and designed to draw 5 feet of water. The boat, which was sponsored by the Bureau of Reclamation, was also going to be used by the Works Progress Administration to help clear debris from the lakebed of the future reservoir. Afterwards it was to be used for...

  • The first locomotives at dam construction

    Dan Bolyard, Them Dam Writers Online|Aug 5, 2020

    The first locomotives to haul construction material for the dam were old and tired. Two were on hand in 1935 and had been bought by MWAK to get trains moving. For the section from Electric City down to below the dam, an old logging locomotive, built in 1926, was purchased. It was of the Shay type of geared steamer, in that it was designed to move via pistons turning a common shaft via gearing attached to the wheels. The speed wasn't high, nor was the pulling power great, but it was perfect for...

  • Siphons critical for moving water to farms

    Dan Bolyard, Them Dam Writers online 2020|Jul 15, 2020

    Siphons were a large part of the irrigation project enabled by the pumping plant at Grand Coulee Dam. Most of them were placed in locations where a simple canal would not be feasible, due to an extreme elevation change. Siphons near the main canal, such as this one of the East Low Canal, were about 22 feet in diameter. This October 10, 1948 view, is located near Adco, about 6 miles east of Soap Lake. Notable about this particular siphon is what it is crossing under. Note the body of water on...

  • The US Construction Railroad

    Dan Bolyard, THem Dam Writers online|May 6, 2020

    Bids to build the construction railroad were received May 17, 1934, and 22 firms competed for the work. The two low bidders were L. Coluccio of Seattle, and David H. Ryan of San Diego. Irregularities were found in the Coluccio bid, resulting in an investigation of the bids. They came in at Ryan at $235,570 and Coluccio at $236,925. The contract was awarded to Ryan on July 17, 1934, and a notice to proceed was issued August 8, 1934. Ryan claimed to be able to outbid anyone else by already being...

  • The 31-Mile Grand Coulee tunnel

    Dan Bolyard, Them Dam Writers online|Feb 12, 2020

    A proposal to build a 31-mile water tunnel under the Grand Coulee was made by Frank Harris, a civil engineer from Renton. His plan, publicly announced in December 1935, was to expedite the irrigation of approximately 500,000 acres of land in the Columbia Basin by a gravity system, without waiting for Grand Coulee power. He figured that the amount of water required to lift and fill what is now Banks Lake would be 20,320,000,000 cubic feet before any could flow out into the main distributing canal...

  • Boxcars full of cement

    Dan Bolyard|Dec 31, 2019

    Cement for the building of Grand Coulee Dam was hauled in by the boxcar full. Thousands of loads were needed for the project. When it was done, the North Dam was built, along with Dry Falls Dam, and what we know as Banks Lake was filled with water. This inundated most of the old railroad grade. When time came to build the Third Powerhouse, how was all this cement going to get to the dam? By rail, most of the way. Now cement was no longer hauled in boxcars. Now there were dedicated cars where cem...

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