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Day 3 (9.4.07) - Dams & Extinct Water Falls (Photo's Added)

Driving through Eastern WA along Columbia River, Chief Joseph Dam, Dry Falls, Banks Lake, Grand Coulee Dam, Spokane, to Newport & Albeni Cove campground.

sunny 0 °F
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Starting Mileage: 110188, Pateros WA
Ending Mileage: 110422, Newport WA
Weather: Sunny, 65 F at 8:30 AM, warming during day

We left Alta Lake SP and continued NE to Bridgeport. We stopped at the overlook for "Chief Joseph Dam", which I had never heard of, but turns out to be the second largest electricity producing dam in the USA (second only to Grand Coulee Dam)! The dam itself is "L" shaped (to take better advantage of the river flow) and about a mile long across the Columbia river and generates 2.6 million kilowatts - enough to power the city of Seattle. This is the largest dam constructed and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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The dam was named to honor Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Tribe's Wallowa Band. After fighting to protect his tribe's land for many years, Chief Joseph surrendered on October 5, 1877 with this now famous oration:


"Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told be before, I have in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Too-Hul-Hul-Soot is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who now say 'yes' or 'no'. He who led the young men in battle is dead. My little daughter has run away upon the prairie and I do not know where to find her. Perhaps I shall find her, too, among the dead. It is cold and we have no fire, no blankets. The children are crying for food and we have none to give. My children - some of them - have run away to the hills and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are, perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my people and see how many of them I can find. Hear me, my chiefs; my heart is sick and sad; from where the sun now stands Joseph will fight no more forever."

When you remember that it was the U S Government (or RR, or both) policy to rid the plains of the bison to force the native tribes onto reservations, this has an especially sad ring. I suspect we will learn of many such stories during our travels.

Later, after turning South again on Hwy 17, we saw a lot of unusual geologic formations. Often there were large rocks (house size sometimes) just sitting in the middle of a plain. Once we saw some white mounds that looked a little like pyrmids - but not nearly as large and more erroded. Geologists think the large rocks were caught in Glaciers and carried 'downstream' as the glaciers melted and receded. We learned that the general area is called the Channeled Scablands of Eastern Washington.

Finally, after Hwy 17 rejoined Hwy 2 (where we thought we were turning onto yesterday), we came to a place called "Dry Falls". Geologists think this was created by a huge lake that was created during the ice ages when the glaciers blocked the Clark Fork river in Idaho and Montana. Eventually the lake broke through the ice shelf and flooded the whole Grand Coulee/Columbia river basins, creating a short lived waterfalls ten times larger than Niagara Falls. This process may have repeated itself several times in ancient prehistory.

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Today, the Bureau of Reclaimation has built an earthen "Dry Falls Dam" just east of the SP and it's Banks Lake, which is used for irrigation for much of eastern Washington. We drove up the south side of Banks Lake and enjoyed many scenic vista's of the basalt cliffs and lake - a canyon formed in this mannor is called a 'coulee', the largest of which was Grand Coulee of course.

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At the far north end of Banks Lake is Grand Coulee Dam. This blocks the Columbia River, to form Lake Roosevelt which extends 150 miles all the way to Canada. When the dam was first built, many people didn't believe anyone could ever use as much electricity as it would generate. However, in the 1960's, electricity had become so important that they even rebuilt part of the dam so they could add a third generating plant! Today, Grand Coulee generates 6.8 Megawatts of power. It is operated by the Bureau of Reclamation and is 550 feet high and 5,223 feet across. Almost 12 million cubic yards of concrete were used to build Grand Coulee Dam. By way of comparision, Hoover Dam in Nevada used 3.2 million cubic yards of concrete and generates 2 megawatts of electricity, but it is taller at 726 feet (& narrower at 1,233 feet wide).

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After leaving Grand Coulee Dam, we also visited the Colville Tribal Museum which is only a couple of miles from the dam. This is a relatively new museum (1987) and small compared to some others we visited, but has a nice collection of stories about some of the members of the Colville Tribe as well as exhibits of bead work, moccasins and other artifacts. There are twelve feathers on the Colville Tribal Flag representing the twelve bands that make up the Colville Confederated Tribes. The gift shop had many lovely examples of bead work and books for purchase, but the prices were too high for my taste.

We then drove eastwards towards Spokane. The terrain changed to rolling farmlands with many wheat fields being cut & baled by farmers.

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Of course, once we got back to civilization, I remembered why I wanted to leave it!

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Once we got close enough to civilization to get a cell phone signal, we got a call from my sister Penny. She was interviewing for a job in the far northeastern corner of WA and wanted us to meet her there. So instead of staying near Spokane at a Coast to Coast campground with High Speed internet connections (as planned), we drove on to Newport to meet up with Penny. She had reserved a campsight for us at a beautiful lake behind the Albeni Falls Dam, but there was no Sprint phone signal there - so I was unable to update the blog. (We stopped in Sandpoint, ID the following day (9/5/07) where I did have a signal, but the slow dial up service speed. So while I was able to upload some photo's, most will have to wait.) I am feeling a need to get moving...

Since we ended up so far north, we will go through Glacier National Park (NP) afterall, then head back to Helena & I90.

Mom & I have decided to alternate blog days to make it easier for our users (so you won't have to read two entries for each day). If you have any idea's or suggestions to imrpove the blog, please let us know (by posting comments!!!)

Posted by jl98584 12:59 Tagged family_travel

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When you get to the top of "Going to the Sun" pass (assuming it is open), do hike down to Jewel Lake or at least the short distance to the overlook. It is a favorite view of ours.

by TexasRTJ

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