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Almira to Coulee Dam

  • Distance: 22 miles
  • Routes: Old Coulee Road
  • Estimated Driving Time: 32 minutes

Coulee Dam is one of the wonders of the world, irrigating a semi-desert area almost as large as the State of Connecticut and generating electric current to the extent of 2,520,000 horsepower. The dam is designed to halt the full flood of the mighty Columbia, which drains most of the northwest, back it up into a vast artificial lake 151 miles long, and regulate its flow for 450 miles to the Pacific. Over the giant spillway plunges a roaring cataract, three times the height of Niagara Falls and several times its volume. By means of the mightiest pumping system yet devised, enough water will be elevated in a vertical lift of 280 feet to fill and keep filled the Grand Coulee Equalizing Reservoir, some 30 miles long and several miles wide. From this second man-made lake, canals as long as 100 miles carry water to the rich volcanic soil of three counties.

This prodigious project was begun in 1933 and in 1937 employed about 6,500 persons; some five hundred thousand visitors had watched construction of the dam by the completion date in 1941.

Key waypoints on this leg include: AlmiraGrand Coulee DamMason City

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This town grew rapidly when construction on the Coulee Dam began and became known as “The Gateway City to the Grand Coulee Dam,” serving as the construction headquarters for a period of time. It was also a shipping point for wheat; nearly 750,000 bushels were handled each year through its warehouses. This area is adapted to dry wheat farming and sheep and cattle grazing. Water is supplied here by deep...

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Almira Hotel

Christen K. Weismann came to the United States from Copenhagen, Denmark in 1884. After two years working the coal mines of Pennsylvania, he homesteaded this property in 1886. The barn was built in the late 1800s or early 1900s as a multi-purpose barn. It was not only the shelter for the 12 to 14 horses that provided the capacity to run the 720-acre farm, it was also the milking parlor...

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Carcasses of ground squirrels and gophers are often strewn along the roadside during spring and early summer; a major enemy of crops, they multiply rapidly in early spring, making their first appearance in late February. Gophers feed on the young shoots of grain and later attack the budding stalks, sometimes causing considerable destruction in the grain fields. Farmers try to exterminate them through poison and shooting, and they are hunted...

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The road begins the steep, winding descent into Grand Coulee. Somewhat comparable to Grand Canyon, with the purple and rust of its towering walls, the Columbia canyon is here made especially awesome by grotesque lava formations and rounded pinnacles in the rock strata cut through by the river centuries ago. Grand Coulee Hill Road forms a junction with SR 174 at the entrance to Grand Coulee. This little city clings...

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One may say that the site of Grand Coulee Dam was determined centuries ago. Lava, hissing and boiling, fought with angry waters, cooled, and bore plant life; then lava came again, repeating the same cycle in successive periods, until seven flows had been recorded in the dark porous rock, streaked with reds and greens, of the high coulee walls. Centuries passed, and then a great ice sheet, which scientists say...

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Douglas Park

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Grand Coulee Bridge

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Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center

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Administration Building

Known as an “all-electric” construction town at the Grand Coulee dam site, this community was the result of a planned housing program by the Mason-Mason-Atkinson-Kier Company  (MWAK) and named in 1934 after the chairman of the firm’s board, Silas B. Mason. Buildings were shipped piecemeal to the site and assembled; all are painted white. The town had schools, stores, several tennis courts, a motion picture theater and a well-equipped hospital....

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