We pulled ourselves away from our good friends (which is getting harder to do) and headed south to the Portland, OR area. We camped about 40 miles east of Portland along the Columbia River at a Forest Service site. Just down the road is the mighty Bonneville Dam. So, we took a tour. This is a shot of the original powerhouse with its six generators. Note the 30s style tiling on the floor near the walls.
The dam is a run-in-the-river dam, located about 145 miles upstream from the mouth of the Columbia. This means that it does not create a dammed pool of water behind it. The river flows through it. The above image is as the structures appeared in the 60s, before the addition of the second powerhouse.
This is how it looks now. The second powerhouse is to the far right. The white water area is the spillway. To the left of the center island is the first powerhouse. Then locks to the left of that.
This is one of mechanical governors that was installed in the 1930s.
An image of the original construction, a couple of tools, and the installation of the stator field in a generator. The original design called for just two generators, but demand escalated it to six as the dam was being built.
Pretty amazing to me how these huge projects got completed and worked so well.
Since the Columbia is an important anadromous fish corridor, elaborate fish ladders were built with the dam. This ladder associated with powerhouse #1. Water is flowing at you and fish move up the ladder. Contrary to belief, they do not jump out of the water to the next higher ladder, only if they must. Hidden doorways are built below the water level through the ladder.
At the visitor center, next to the ladder, you can watch fish migrate upstream. This is a steelhead. Decent sized fish I’d say!
Behind a locked door a fish biologist counts fish for 8 hours a day. This is what he sees as the fish pass. Yes, he/she does this ALL the time. Another biologist counts fish from a video feed at night. You can see daily and year to date data by checking on-line. Gotta know your fish!
This is looking downstream at the area where the dam was built, before construction. That island midway down the river with the split streams is the location. The river was constricted here due to a large landslide from the right.
Here is the location, but looking upstream.
The dam’s namesake. An intrepid explorer of the Great Basin and Northwest. Bonneville's godfather was Thomas Paine.
One of the turbines in powerhouse #1. In service from 1941 to 2000.
During WWII, guard houses were manned.
Powerhouse #2 is to the far left, out of the picture.
Near the dam, a large fish hatchery resides. A cool sculpture made out of metal.
This small structure abuts a pond. You can see the critters swimming through the large display windows. Most of the fish were White Sturgeon. Two were quite large, weighing several hundred pounds each. White Sturgeon is a commercial fish in the Columbia, harvest is tightly controlled to protect the population. Sturgeon are ancient fish.