DAMS

DAMS IN THE GRAND CANYON: A DREAM, A NIGHTMARE, A HISTORY

The extraordinary establishment of Grand Canyon National Park coincided with the astonishing rise of hydroelectric power generation, with the Colorado River Basin home to many promising damsites. The period from 1910-1930 was full of plans and schemes, and was crowned for the dam-builders by the 1930's construction and start-up of Hoover Dam, with its reservoir Lake Mead that extended some 40 miles into the Grand Canyon. 

The 1930's and 40's were full of more schemes and surveys, aimed at one or more damsites in the Canyon itself. These efforts were channelled in the late 1940's by the Bureau of Reclamation and Arizona into plans to use a dam at the Bridge Canyon site to generate electricity and bring water from the Colorado into central Arizona. The powerful sway held by the Reclamation view brought the National Park Service and non-governmental pro-Park organizations like the National Parks Association and the Sierra Club to a position of restive acquiescence. The Hualapai actively pursued its claim to a share of Bridge Canyon dam's benefits. When Congress insisted in the early 1950's that Arizona's water rights be adjudicated by the Supreme Court, Reclamation intensified its work on a dam in the Canyon's Marble Gorge and on a tunnel to divert the river around the National Park. 

In the 1950's and 60's, Arizona, as always alarmed by delay in securing its share of the Colorado's bounty, launched another effort to construct Grand Canyon dam(s) by itself, in alliance with the Hualapai. This effort was contested by Los Angeles, which had been scheming to control any such dam construction since the 1920's. In the same period, educated by dam fights in the upper Colorado River Basin, pro-Grand Canyon groups moved to a stance of opposing any dams in the Canyon. The Reclamation effort resumed in the mid-1960's, in an often-uneasy alliance with much of Arizona, parts of the federal government, and the other Colorado River Basin states. The Arizona go-it-alone faction was stopped cold in Congress. The Hualapai joined in support of a federal dam, re-christened Hualapai Dam. 
  
The climactic fight took place 1965-8, with a determined effort to authorize two dams. The effort failed; the dam dream of some had become too much of a nightmare for too many. Congress and the President instead took the path of declaring the Canyon off-limits to any more dams. In the 1970's, the Hualapai and the state Arizona Power Authority continued to promote the dam; gradually, even their effort flickered out.

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Introductory Comments
  The Colorado will be a federal river
  Park vs. dams: a sizing up
  Two illustrations of what might have been
  I conjure up just how bad dams would have been for the Grand Canyon

Early Efforts; Studies; Hoover Dam; 1910-30 & After-effects
  The FPC Act; Private applications; Reclamation; the Colorado Compact: A federal river
  The Geological Survey, speculations, and some illustrations of rocky reality
  On a 2011 river trip, I could see geological processes in action
  From maps and photos, I try to show what has changed at Pearce Ferry
  Three reports from the first USGS trip to survey the Canyon as a resource;
   What damsites E.C.LaRue favored

1930's-40's: Bridge, initial steps and complications
Arizona plans
  Initial efforts by state agencies to take the initiative, early 1930's
Federal agencies try to gain an advantage
  Reclamation, the Park Service, the Federal Power Commission: all maneuvering
Arizona puts forth a solid effort for the damsite
  Work on the ground; an FPC application, 1938-42
Where matters stood, wartime
  A summary of the situation at the point Reclamation really got started
Reclamation gets to work planning, early 1940's,
  Initial plans and on-site studies on how to get water and power for Arizona
The Park Service gets involved, 1938-42
  NPS makes studies of the Canyon, trying to determine a Bridge dam's impact
Summary of NPS's 1942 impact study
  Reclamation still trying to make up its mind, but anyway, NPS gets specific
Reclamation in high gear, 1943-5
  Lots of discussion; the Marble-Kanab tunnel; Los Angeles; more from NPS
Trying to decide, 1945-6
  Reclamation, with Arizona and Los Angeles contributing, tries to decide what to do.
  How can the dam best be used?
Did Reclamation over-reach?
  Some thoughts on how a hydro-power dream blew up into megalomaniac fantasy
As Reclamation prepares, some sage advice, 1947
  Getting ready for congressional testimony, Reclamation officials 
  hear from a wise old head
Agreement is hard to come by, 1947-8
  Debate continues, within Reclamation, with Los Angles, with the Park Service

The first congressional battle, late 1940's-1950's
The Sierra Club, the dam and NPS; 1948-50
  How one influential conservationist led the way toward non-opposition to the dam;
  later evidence on the effects of this effort
Summary of the CAP/Bridge Canyon legislation, 1947-52
  How Arizona's first congressional effort to bring water to Phoenix was blocked;
  The Grand Canyon and its dam were not a central issue
A precis of the legislation's content, 1946-51
  The actual provisions of the bills, and how they changed


Reclamation affairs: The Kanab tunnel, 1949;
Marble and Bridge in the quiet time of the 1950's
A power-full tunnel idea, 1945-50
  A very short, very significant tussle inside Interior over a very scary fantasy
NPS, 1949, still trying to reconcile the Park and the dam
  Internal debate reflects an unhappy position
Studying the Marble damsite, without? a tunnel, 1949-59
 Reclamation stayed busy surveying the Marble Gorge damsites
The 1950's: not so quiet; many actors; much action. Part 1
  While the Supreme Court looked at water, the struggle to control the damsite went on
The 1950's, Part 2
  The struggle, continued
The 1950's: Bridge remained a bone in the Park's throat
  NPS, pro-Park organizations, the Echo Park battle; could that dam be acceptable?


A sideshow: the Arizona Power Authority makes a grab
The 1950's-60's
APA: Background and initial moves, 1956-61
  Trying to get the Federal Power Commission to approve a state dam;
  Opposition headed by Los Angeles over the Bridge site
APA: Marble in its sights, 1961-64
  Making its case for a state Marble Gorge dam, the APA meets effective opposition
The APA struggle, part 2
  Continuing the story to the 1964 moratorium
The APA struggle: sidebars on its effort, 1956-64
  Several illuminating items
Using the Kanab tunnel to fight the APA, 1960-3
  Los Angeles and Reclamation bring back a Canyon nightmare
Engineers' fantasy: details of the monster, 1961
  A summary of the report produced on the Kanab tunnel project by L.A.

Which brings us to 1964 and the Final Battle
But first, a summary of how we got here
An overview. 1910-64
  Dams in the Grand Canyon: A half century of dreams and studies 



Save the Grand Canyon: A Different Direction

     Snapshot of one big thinking changing to another

The Dam Battle, As Seen By The Press, 1966-68
With My Connecting and Contextualizing Comments

Introduction to Press Reports, 1966-68; plus abbreviations 
      The newspaper clippings collected in my office during the climactic battle

Dam Battle, press from January 1966 
     The clippings are presented for each month, in chronological order
      I provide comments and connecting narrative, largely from memory

 Dam Battle, press - February 1966

 Dam Battle, press - March 1966

 Dam Battle, press - April 1966





The Dam Battle narrative seen from my journals and reports; Some memories

Ingram journal, dam battle 1966-8, part 1
Ingram journal, part 2

Memories of 1966, 50 years later


 
A peek behind
  Looking at several writers who claim dams were kept out of the 
  Grand Canyon only by building air-polluting coal-fired electric plants
The strategy and philosophy of insisting on the existence of alternatives