Grand Coulee Dam
Today was mostly a driving day. They call Montana "Big Sky" country, it could just as easily be called "Long Road!" We traveled through Idaho and into Washington, along the Columbia River gorge. Our goal was to reach North Cascades National Park before dark, so we only made one side trip, to the Grand Coulee Dam.
The largest concrete structure in the United States, this dam was started in 1933 and completed in 1941, not only to provide electricity to the Northwest, but to irrigate the Colombia River Basin as well. It also serves as flood control for the region. Unfortunately, they made no provisions for fish to migrate, so that was the end of the salmon and steelhead runs of the upper Columbia river! Wiped out the fishing industry, and decimated Native American populations who were dependant on the fish! Poor planning for such a big project! It is not a tall dam, as they didn't want water backing up into Canada...but it is the largest in terms of sheer volume of concrete used. The dam created Lake Roosevelt, named for FDR, the president who authorized the project. We didn't take the dam tour, but explored the area and the visitor's center. After lunch, we continued on our way!