Saturday, August 25, 2012

Flaming Gorge Dam

The culmination of our study of dams was a trip to Flaming Gorge Dam in Eastern Utah. Upon looking up our route on the map the day before we left, we were excited to see there would be two other dams and reservoirs along the way! The boys were looking out for them with their beady little eyes the whole time we drove. Here is the first, a small embankment dam called Mountain Dell, I think?
So lovely in the morning light!

And the next, also embankment, was Echo Dam and Reservoir. The water level here was really low!

We were also pleased to spot lots of windmills as we drove!

Flaming Gorge itself is gorgeous! (ha ha) It goes on for miles (we didn't nearly drive around it all)

We enjoyed driving across this bridge as we got close

From the top, the dam isn't that huge---I assumed the water wasn't that deep, maybe 100 feet or something. But once we got around to the other side . . . 

we could see that estimate was way off! I think our guide said it's 500 feet high. It's even a bit longer from side to side than Hoover Dam---though much, much shorter in height!

It was so exciting to see all the parts of the dam---we could hardly believe that the tour let us go into the powerhouse and see the generators at work! The children were SO curious about everything (the guide said she'd never seen children like them---er. . . I believe her exact words were that they were the "most dam knowledgeable" kids she'd encountered on this tour. Ha ha. :))
Power lines. It was stormy, and not too comforting to hear another guide tell ours as we left for our tour, "Just make sure you don't get hit by lightning!" This impressed the children greatly, and when they asked if the dam had been hit by lightning before, our guide replied, "Oh yes---lightning has hit the dam, the powerlines, the visitor's center---we all ended up on the floor after that one!" It added a delicious thrill to our visit.

Looking down

Sluice gates, leading to the penstocks

Inside the powerhouse---three big generators!

Malachi. That dark grey shape in the background is an old turbine.

Looking up from the bottom

These were interesting---hollow jet valves, I think they were called? They're an alternate release system, in addition to the spillway. They can bypass the turbines and let water out here if they need to work on the generators or release water pressure a bit. Our guide said these were in use all last summer. The spillway (not pictured---it's higher up), on the other hand, has only been used once, in 1983!

Here's the end of one of the diversion tunnels they used while constructing the dam

Reservoir from above

And, looking the other direction, the top of the dam

It was a great field trip, well worth the long drive and the late night getting home---especially since we got to enjoy views like this as we drove!

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