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Grand Coulee Dam | Steamboat State Park – Part II

This post is continued from
Grand Coulee Dam | Steamboat State Park Part I


5kidsandarv-approvedAbout 15-minutes down the road from Steamboat Rock State Park you’ll find Electric City and the Grand Coulee Dam. We used the grocery store, Safeway, to restock our fridge and supplies and enjoyed a dinner or two at Pepper Jacks Bar & Grill — a diner that was a blast from the past. I remember Pepper Jacks well, because it was the first date night Jes and I had after several weeks of being on the road. We were camping with family and they generously offered to watch the kids to give us a needed break (evidently they thought we were looking weary from our travels), so we headed to the one restaurant we knew of in town, Pepper Jacks. As I was eating my meal, I asked Jes what the slits in the bottom of the cups were for and we quickly figured out (after watching a waitress bring drinks to a nearby table) that these slits allowed the cups to stack! I’ve eaten at a lot of restaurants, but this was a first for me and we loved it! Here Jesse entertains me with some tricks! (And no, they didn’t fall!)

Pepperjacks Restaurant in Electric City, Washington

While in the area, we took the kids to see the Grand Coulee Dam.  It was originally built for irrigation and job creation, but ended up playing a key role during WWII in supplying energy production for factories and airplane manufacturing plants. The Grand Coulee Dam was the world’s largest concrete dam (until China built their dam—see video below) and remains the world’s second largest concrete dam (according to the tour guide) with nearly 12 million cubic yards of concrete throughout. That’s enough concrete to build a 4′ wide x 4″ deep sidewalk around the equator twice and 4x more concrete than what was used to build the Hoover Dam!

It generates 6,809 megawatts — enough to power 2.3 million households for a year. Comparatively, the Hoover Dam only generates 1/3 of that power. Eleven states as well as Canada benefit from the power produced by the Grand Coulee Dam. Furthermore, the spillway on the Grand Coulee Dam is twice the height of the Niagara Falls! Cables 5″ thick carry power generated by the Dam and the Columbia River.

You can see glimpses of our tour here:

5kidsandarv Crew in front of spillway
5 Kids and a RV Crew in front of the Grand Coulee Dam spillway

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The spillway on the Grand Coulee Dam is twice as high as the Niagara Falls
Sheep crossing over the Grand Coulee Dam Historical Archive
Had to take a picture of this photo in their archive book showing sheep being herded across the spillway. Now security prevents anyone from getting close to the spillway.
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This vintage poster communicates the project and the regions that would be affected.

If you want to learn more about the Grand Coulee Dam, visit this link >> http://www.usbr.gov/pn/grandcoulee/index.html

This is also a great video on the history of the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam here for your students/kiddos to learn more about this impressive project.

If you’re kiddos are learning about hydro-electric power and engineering marvels, here’s a documentary you may want to watch as well…

Here’s a list of the top 10 Dams to visit in the — something that I think every student should see at least one so they understand how power is produced.  http://www.citi.io/2016/04/29/the-top-10-grandest-american-dams-to-see/

If you’re in the Grand Coulee area and want to visit the dam, check out this link >> http://www.usbr.gov/pn/grandcoulee/visit/gcvc.html for details on when the Visitor Center is open to the public.

The Grand Coulee Dam has a laser light show that they do in the evenings. Check the schedule for play time. They’ve updated it since we saw it last and I actually prefer the previous version of the light show that would boom out, “I am the mighty Columbia!” rather then the new politically-correct Native American version. To each his own, but it may help your kiddos understand more of how water can be used as a powerful force to produce energy. There’s not much to do in the evenings in the area other than sit around the campfire (which I love) and gaze at the stars (again I love to do this), so keep it as an option to check out if you’re in the area, but don’t feel like you’re missing out on something spectacular if your timeline can’t accommodate it.

There are guided tours at the Grand Coulee Dam, but they have really restricted what you can and can’t see since the 9-11 attacks and the reality of possible terrorism threats. There is a high-level of security in place throughout the facility and be forewarned that you are being watched by many a camera. I actually found comfort in that security was beefed-up and am glad for it. You can learn more about the tour schedule here  >> http://www.usbr.gov/pn/grandcoulee/visit/tour.html 

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Can you imagine the trust that was required for the divers that would work on the Grand Coulee Dam? Whoever was operating this was their lifeline!

In all, if you are in the region or live in Washington State, we highly recommend a week get-away in the Grand Coulee Dam / Banks Lake area. You can relax and enjoy the recreational area (fishing, kayaking, hiking, boating, horse trails) and teach the kids a few things too while you’re there by going to the Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center and Tour the Pump House. But heed our advice, book early because this place fills quick. Have fun!

—5 Kids and A RV


5kidsandarv-approved5 Kids and a RV recommendations are based on personal experience and do not represent the business, agency, or not-for-profit we feature. We share our experiences in an effort to inspire parents to engage and explore with their children. As always, whenever trying something new, please use your own good judgement in what best suits the needs of your family to keep everyone safe while having fun.

5 Kids and a RV: “Let’s go learn something today.”
Copyright 2016

Save the date! Georgia’s Largest RV and Camping Show :: January 23-25, 2015

Save the date! The 2015 Atlanta Camping and RV Show will be January 23-24-25 at the Atlanta Exposition Center South (3850 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta GA 30354. Hours: Friday, 11-7; Saturday 9-7; Sunday 10-5. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for adults 55 and older, $5 for ages 6-16, and free for children under the age of 6. It is important to note that they accept CASH only — there is an ATM machine on site if needed. You can save a dollar or two here by printing out a coupon in advance and bringing with you to the 2015 Atlanta Camping and RV Show. This event showcases products like motor homes, fifth wheels, trailers, wheel chairs, power scooters and more etc. in the Marine & Boat industry.

The largest RV Show in Georgia