AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Grand Coulee Dam
Air Date: 
Tuesday, Apr 3rd - 7:00pm
Episode Title: 
Grand Coulee Dam

Grand Coulee was more than a dam — it was a proclamation. In the wake of the Great Depression, America turned from private enterprise to public works — not simply to provide jobs, but to restore faith. The ultimate expression of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, Grand Coulee played a central role in transforming the Northwest; it was the largest hydroelectric power producing facility in the world when it was completed in March 1941. After WWII, a vast irrigation project made possible by the dam helped turn the barren deserts of central Washington into rich farmland. But the dam prevented access to one of the greatest salmon rivers in the world. Deprived of the salmon — their most important resource — the native people who lived along the Columbia witnessed a profound cultural decline. Featuring the men and women who lived and worked at Grand Coulee and the native people whose lives were changed, as well as historians and engineers, this film explores how the tension between technological achievement and environmental impact hangs over the project's legacy.

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