If you’d like to glimpse the inside story of one aspect of the mission of Grand Coulee Dam, this is a good video.
The dam was originally conceived to provide irrigation to more than a million acres of potential farmland in the Columbia basin, but these days most people think of it as a huge electricity producer.
It is that, but this video, produced by the Bureau of Reclamation as a tool to help potential recruits, also provides a good overview of the basics with some spectacular footage. Watching it will help you appreciate what you see when you visit in person.
Grand Coulee Dam is the largest electrical production facility of any kind, in terms of capacity, in North America. But it doesn’t just happen magically. These folks make it happen. Watch:
We love it when you visit us!
And the view you’ve shown in your Instagram account, from the Crown Point Lookout, always inspires.
Thanks for stopping by.
From Instragram: jenkrajicekDetour to Grand Coulee Dam. This is what happens when I let Henry navigate
Wondering how Henry found this great viewpoint?
Below is a map. From the Visitor Center at Grand Coulee Dam, take a left to go uphill on highway 155. Continue to the intersection with highway 174 and turn right. Follow 174 until you see the sign directing you to Crown Point Overlook.
This is a state park site, and a Discover Pass is required, but the view of the dam and down river is spectacular.
Music, food and fireworks.
Sounds like Festival of America time in the coulee, when patriots can celebrate America Friday and Saturday at the park below the Visitor Center, with a guide to the action inside this issue.
The Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce, the organizer of the event, has put together live music, kids activities, a big show in the park, fireworks and more to entertain local residents as well as the thousands of visitors who crowd the park and surrounding areas each year.
Listen to the music of MacDaddy, Tuxedo Junction and the Olson Bros. bands.
Fifty vendors will provide food and product in the park.
An “Inflatable Village,” a romp particularly for the kids, will help to make the time clearly a family time.
New this year is the chamber’s Beer Garden, located on town shop property facing Columbia Avenue, where adults can go for a beverage break and a retreat from the crowd.
All in all, a great experience filled with possibilities for everyone.
And don’t forget the Laser Light Show, kicking off just before the fireworks over Grand Coulee Dam.
All the fun is explained in the special Festival of America section with this week’s Star newspaper.
And by the way, when you see a chamber of commerce member, say “thanks” for the creativity and hard work it takes to put on the festival.
Here’s our online edition of our printed special section:
The laser light show that explains the history of the area and the dam shows nightly through the season. It’s the largest outdoor show in North America and is something to see, newly updated in 2014.
What time does the laser light show begin?
The laser show is held nightly at Grand Coulee Dam as follows for 2015:
May 23 to July 31 at 10:00 p.m.
Aug. 1 to Aug. 31 at 9:30 p.m.
Sept. 1 to Sept. 30 at 8:30 p.m.
The show is about 28 minutes in length. There is no admission fee. Call 509-633-9265 for more information.
How long is the laser show?
The laser light show lasts approximately 28 minutes, during which time colorful images created by the lasers move back and forth across the huge surface of the dam.
Where can I view the show?
The best locations are the seating area at the Visitor Center and from the park below the Visitor Center. These areas provide an outdoor sound system.
The town of Coulee Dam has a park — terraced and grassy for viewing the laser show — adjacent to the east end of the Columbia River bridge.
Other viewing spots: from Douglas Park in Coulee Dam; from Crown Point atop the granite cliffs above Lake Rufus Woods, access from SR174 towards Bridgeport.
The USBR broadcasts the audio portion of the laser light show nightly at 90.1 FM.
What is a laser?
Lasers are intense beams of light commonly used in medicine and science, but they’ve also found a niche as a high-tech, fast-moving form of entertainment. They are controlled by computers which, at Grand Coulee Dam, are in the Visitor Center.
Although a single dot of light, lasers can trace an image so rapidly it appears as a solid figure to the human eye.
The term laser is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It is so commonly used now that the tradition of using capital letters for an acronym has been dropped.
How are the lasers used at Grand Coulee Dam?
As one of the largest entertainment laser projection systems in the world, and certainly the largest outdoor laser show in North America, the lasers at Grand Coulee Dam tell the story of the Columbia River and how its power was harnessed to provide multiple benefits to mankind, including electrical power, irrigation for farming and exciting recreational opportunities. As a result of the open process of scripting the show new in 2014, viewers will also understand the costs of building the dam — cost to wildlife, and to native peoples whose way of life was dependent on that wildlife, in particular, the salmon that no longer could continue upstream to spawn.
How much did the lasers cost?
With the original equipment in use since 1989, the Bureau of Reclamation commissioned a new show and new equipment. The equipment began operation in May of 2013, but projecting the new show began in May, 2014. Lumalaser, of Oregon, bid the project at $1.6 million.
How big are the laser images?
Pictures are beamed at the awesome height of nearly 300 feet.
How far do the lasers project?
The laser lights are beamed between 2,000 and 4,000 feet to the surface of the dam.
Lake Roosevelt is being held at a level about 47 feet below the full mark while maintnenace is completed on the drum gates that hold the water back when the lake is full.
The Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Grand Coulee Dam, reports the lake will likely remain below 1,255 feet above sea level until May 10.
The water forecast for the Columbia River drainage above Grand Coulee Dam, from April to August this year, is estimated to 82.5 percent of normal, so the maximum level allowed for flood control right now would actually be 1,283.3 feet, less than 7 feet below spilling over.
But such flood control elevations are the maximum elevations allowed to ensure enough room in the lake for the spring runoff. Actual elevations may be lower “based on power demand, unforeseen power emergencies, changes in weather events, maintenance on the dam, etc,” the bureau explains on its website.