The Mightiest of Them All
Memories of Grand Coulee Dam
by L. Vaughn Downs
Inside Cover Review

Mankind continues to wonder how the pyramids of Egypt were built. And many who now gaze at Grand Coulee Dam wonder how it too was built. Yet it is only 53 years since the work was started.

Here the author narrates his personal recollections of the people involved and the actual construction of that massive dam on the then untamed Columbia River.

The construction was a coordinated effort using painstaking care to insure its highest quality. And the work was accomplished under rigid concurrent inspection to assure quality control of the results. Methods used and the role of the Government inspectors and engineers are emphasized and improvements and changing techniques in construction are cited.

Grand Coulee Dam was built at the end of the highly labor-intensive construction practices era and so contributed to many improved methods of work done.

The reader should keep in mind that the physical size of the structure and machines and of the river channel and depth of overburden at the site exceeded that in any other undertaking at that time.

Many of the unforeseen physical and engineering problems encountered and how they were resolved are included. Engineers and builders may find the review of the risk of the unforeseen and unexpected thought provoking. But lay readers too will get a feel for the thrill of this great dam from seeing it unfold in the pages of this book.

About the Author

L. Vaughn Downs is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and spent his entire professional career in the design, construction and operation and maintenance of Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Project. Here he relates his recollections and personal experiences with the people who actually built the dam. And of the unexpected difficulties encountered and the great changes that have evolved there in the past 50 years.