In addition to giving an exciting account of a near disastrous flood which occurred at Grand Coulee Dam on March 14, 1952, the author also provides a brief but detailed history of the Grand Coulee Dam project and explains its importance to the Pacific Northwest. The text is supplemented with a few pages of technical drawings and glossy pictures.
From the time the reader enters the mysterious, labyrinthine interior of the largest concrete dam in the world -- Grand Coulee dam -- and learns how and why it works, to the moment when human error brings an icy torrent bursting into one of the corridors, The Dam is a relentless drama of man and nature. Grand Coulee is the economic heart of the whole Northwest, and without it the history of America, and of the world, might have been very different. The story behind it, and especially of the bitter March day in 1952 when the life of the world's greatest powerhouse was threatened with extinction, is an absorbing saga of human vision, attainment, and dedication.
Murray Morgan, whose best-selling Skid Road attracted attention as regional writing of national importance, here further displays his fine gifts of narration and reportage in giving the historical background -- both geographic and political -- to the actual construction of the great dam. Against a setting of rising excitement and suspense the author succeeds brilliantly in interesting the reader in all the facts and figures vital to an appreciation of the staggering dimensions of the near tragedy.
Mr. Morgan's new book (an excerpt from which appeared in The Reader's Digest) again transcends the bounds of regional interest and becomes part of the American literary heritage of stories of men who built their dreams and then had to risk their lives to protect them.
[An Excerpt] from The Dam:
A heavy, cold spray shot across the chamber, dimming the light. The particles stung like flying glass. A piece of lumber, a two-by-twelve, shot from the well and splintered against the concrete.
Allen decided it was time to get out. He jumped from the dissolving sandbags and sloshed through knee-deep water after Carter and Aanenson.
Seventy thousand gallons of water a minute were pouring into the tunnel. The flood ripped the steel ladder from inside the inspection well, tore it to pieces, and wrapped a long shred around the electrical conduit pipe that ran along the ceiling. Sheets of spray played over the gate machinery in the chamber, threatening to short it out.
A small river formed in the tunnel, flowing both east and west. It spread out in the chambers. It poured down air vents and stairwells, first in trickles, then in cascades. It dropped to the main-floor level, where, there being fewer stairs, it spread out and began to flow toward the powerhouses...