Building of the dam

As part of continued development of hydro-electric and water distribution capacities along the Columbia River, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers proposed and ultimately built The Dalles Dam. Completed in 1957, the lake created by the dam flooded over the Celilo Falls and the village of Celilo. Part of the U.S. Department of Energy, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), was created in 1937 to distribute and market electricity from the dams built along the Columbia River. It continues to do so and currently oversees 31 federal dams in the Pacific Northwest and supplies 35 percent of the power consumed in the region. Over 12,500,000 people live in the BPA’s service territory of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana.[1]

While there have been efforts to minimize the impact of dams on seasonal salmon migration up the river, there have been serious concerns about the impact over the decades. Most obviously, The Dalles Dam eliminated Celilo Falls and other Native American villages. It also diminished Native American salmon fishing in the area. The dam’s reservoir, which extends 24 miles upriver, was named Celilo Lake. It is this lake that submerged the village of Celilo and the Falls, which are still intact at the bottom of the lake.[2]

© Richard Wasserman, 2011

[1]Bonneville Power Administration, “Bonneville Basics,” BPA Watch Website. 2007-2014. Accessed February 14, 2016.

[2] Rojas-Burke