Saturday, February 24, 2024
From the WireSTEM

One of the last dams to ever be built, at 717 feet, the third largest in the US, turns 50 this year [Cool]

Imagine standing at the base of the towering Dworshak Dam, marveling at its impressive height of 717 feet. As you admire its sheer size, you can’t help but feel amazed that this magnificent structure turns 50 this year. Located just 5 miles east of Orofino, Idaho, this dam has been at the center of controversy since its inception. As one of the last dams to ever be built, it has left an indelible mark on the landscape and the community. Designed not only to control flooding but also to generate hydroelectric power and provide irrigation water, the Dworshak Dam stands as a testament to human engineering and ingenuity.

One of the last dams to ever be built, at 717 feet, the third largest in the US, turns 50 this year [Cool]

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Dworshak Dam


The Dworshak Dam is located 5 miles east of Orofino, Idaho. Situated in a picturesque setting, it is surrounded by beautiful forests and the stunning Clearwater River. The dam’s location offers visitors a perfect blend of natural beauty and engineering marvel.


One of the largest dams in the United States, the Dworshak Dam stands tall at an impressive height of 717 feet. Its sheer size is awe-inspiring and is a testament to the engineering expertise utilized in its construction.


Ever since its inception, the Dworshak Dam has been shrouded in controversy. Like many other large infrastructure projects, the dam faced opposition from environmentalists and certain communities. Concerns regarding its impact on the local ecosystem and wildlife were raised, sparking debates that continue to this day.

Purpose of Construction

Flood Control

One of the primary purposes behind the construction of the Dworshak Dam was flood control. The dam’s enormous size and strategic location along the Clearwater River help to regulate water flow, minimizing the risk of devastating floods in the area. The local communities greatly benefit from this vital flood control mechanism, ensuring their safety and protection.

Hydroelectric Power

Generating hydroelectric power was another crucial goal of the Dworshak Dam project. With its immense height and capacity, the dam harnesses the power of falling water to produce clean and renewable energy. The hydroelectric power generated at the dam contributes significantly to the region’s energy needs, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and promoting sustainability.

Irrigation Water

In addition to flood control and hydroelectric power generation, the Dworshak Dam provides a reliable water source for irrigation. The reservoir created by the dam allows water to be stored and released as needed, ensuring a steady supply for agricultural activities. This irrigation water is vital for supporting local farming communities and ensuring the productivity of the surrounding lands.

One of the last dams to ever be built, at 717 feet, the third largest in the US, turns 50 this year [Cool]

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Planning and Design

The planning and design phase of the Dworshak Dam project involved extensive research and collaboration among engineers, environmental experts, and various stakeholders. Rigorous studies were conducted to assess the potential impact on the environment and wildlife, as well as to determine the most efficient construction methods.

Materials Used

To withstand the enormous water pressure and ensure the dam’s structural integrity, high-quality materials were utilized during construction. Reinforced concrete and reinforced steel were expertly incorporated into the dam’s structure, ensuring its long-term stability and durability.

Construction Process

The construction of the Dworshak Dam was a monumental endeavor. Skilled workers, engineers, and technicians collaborated to bring the project to life. The process involved careful excavation, pouring and curing of concrete, and ensuring precision in every stage. The dedication and expertise of the construction teams were evident in the successful completion of this extraordinary engineering feat.

Technical Specifications


Standing at an impressive height of 717 feet, the Dworshak Dam is a striking figure against the landscape of Idaho. Its height is a testament to the scale of the project and the engineering prowess required to create such a massive structure.


The dam has a massive capacity, capable of storing approximately 3,000,000 acre-feet of water. This vast reservoir serves various purposes, including flood control, hydroelectric power generation, and irrigation.

Reservoir Area

The reservoir created by the Dworshak Dam spans across a vast area, providing ample water storage for multiple uses. Its surface area covers about 17,090 acres when the reservoir is at full capacity. The expansive reservoir not only fulfills the dam’s intended purposes but also serves as a scenic recreational area.

One of the last dams to ever be built, at 717 feet, the third largest in the US, turns 50 this year [Cool]

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Environmental Impact

Effect on Wildlife

The construction and operation of the Dworshak Dam have undoubtedly had an impact on the local wildlife. While some argue that damming the river negatively affects fish populations and disrupts their natural migratory patterns, efforts have been made to implement fish passage systems to mitigate these effects. Ongoing research and conservation efforts continuously seek to minimize the dam’s impact on the diverse ecosystem that thrives in the area.

Changes in Ecosystem

The construction of a dam of this size brings significant changes to the local ecosystem. The reservoir’s creation leads to the transformation of vast stretches of land into water bodies, affecting the flora and fauna that once inhabited those areas. However, it’s important to note that the reservoir has also created new habitats, attracting various water-dependent species and enhancing the overall biodiversity of the region.

Economic Impact

Job Creation

The construction and operation of the Dworshak Dam have had a considerable economic impact on the region. During the construction phase, numerous jobs were created, providing employment opportunities for local communities and boosting the economy. Even after completion, the dam continues to provide employment, as maintenance and operation require a skilled workforce.

Business Development

The presence of the Dworshak Dam has acted as a catalyst for business development in the surrounding area. The influx of workers during construction and tourists visiting the dam for recreational purposes has spurred the growth of various industries, including hospitality, services, and retail. Numerous local businesses have flourished, catering to the needs and desires of the dam’s visitors and employees.

One of the last dams to ever be built, at 717 feet, the third largest in the US, turns 50 this year [Cool]

Tourism and Recreation


The Dworshak Dam has become a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts. The deep waters of the reservoir are home to a variety of fish species, including trout, bass, and salmon. Anglers flock to the dam’s vicinity, eager to test their skills and enjoy the serenity of fishing in this scenic location.


The vast reservoir created by the Dworshak Dam offers ample opportunity for boating enthusiasts. Whether it’s sailing, water skiing, or simply enjoying a leisurely cruise, the calm waters and picturesque backdrop provide an ideal setting for boating adventures. The reservoir’s vastness ensures that there is plenty of space for all types of watercraft.


For those seeking to immerse themselves in nature, the area surrounding the Dworshak Dam provides abundant camping opportunities. Numerous campgrounds are dotted along the reservoir, offering a scenic and peaceful environment for outdoor enthusiasts. Camping near the dam allows visitors to indulge in various recreational activities while being surrounded by the region’s natural beauty.

Maintenance and Upkeep

Regular Inspections

To ensure the safety and continued functionality of the dam, regular inspections are conducted. Skilled engineers and technicians carefully assess the dam’s structure, monitoring for any signs of wear, erosion, or potential vulnerabilities. These inspections, carried out with meticulous precision, play a crucial role in maintaining the dam’s integrity.

Dam Safety Measures

Safety is of paramount importance when it comes to a structure as significant as the Dworshak Dam. Various safety measures, including robust emergency management systems, are in place to mitigate risks and respond swiftly to any potential incidents. These measures reassure local communities and visitors alike, allowing them to enjoy the recreational opportunities provided by the dam with peace of mind.

One of the last dams to ever be built, at 717 feet, the third largest in the US, turns 50 this year [Cool]

Achievements and Records

Third Largest Dam in the US

As one of the last dams to ever be built in the United States, the Dworshak Dam holds the distinction of being the third-largest dam in the country. Its towering height and impressive capacity make it an engineering marvel that showcases human ingenuity and technical expertise.

50th Anniversary Celebration

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the completion of the Dworshak Dam. Celebrations are planned to commemorate this significant milestone, recognizing the immense contribution the dam has made to the region by providing flood control, generating renewable energy, and supporting agriculture.

Future Prospects

Renewable Energy Expansion

As the world collectively seeks to transition to cleaner and more sustainable forms of energy, the Dworshak Dam is well-positioned to play a role in the renewable energy expansion. With its existing hydroelectric power generation capabilities, there is potential for further development and increased output, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the fight against climate change.

Potential Upgrades

As technologies continuously advance, there may be opportunities to upgrade and enhance the capabilities of the Dworshak Dam in the future. Upgrades could include the implementation of more environmentally friendly fish passage systems, increased efficiency in power generation, and improved water management techniques. By embracing innovation, the dam can ensure its relevance and effectiveness for generations to come.

In conclusion, the Dworshak Dam stands as a remarkable engineering feat, providing significant benefits to the local community and beyond. Despite initial controversy, the dam’s contributions in flood control, hydroelectric power generation, irrigation water supply, and tourism have been substantial. As it reaches its 50th anniversary, the Dworshak Dam continues to inspire awe and serves as a symbol of human innovation and resourceful engineering. Looking ahead, its potential for further expansion and upgrades presents exciting possibilities for a more sustainable and prosperous future.