|Location||Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Multnomah County, Oregon / Skamania County, Washington, USA|
|Construction began||1934 (First Powerhouse)
1974 (Second Powerhouse)
|Opening date||1937 (First Powerhouse)
1981 (Second Powerhouse)
|Construction cost||$88.4 million (First Powerhouse)
$664 million (Second Powerhouse)
|Dam and spillways|
|Type of dam||Concrete gravity, run-of-the-river|
|Height||197 ft (60 m)|
|Length||2,690 ft (820 m)|
|Base width||132 ft (40 m) (Spillway)|
|Type of spillway||Service, gate-controlled|
|Capacity||537,000 acre·ft (0.662 km3)|
|Catchment area||240,000 sq mi (620,000 km2)|
|Installed capacity||1189 MW|
Bonneville Dam Historic District
|Architect||Claussen & Claussen, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers|
|Architectural style||Colonial Revival, Other|
|Governing body||United States Army Corps of Engineers|
|NRHP Reference #||86000727 (original)
|Added to NRHP||April 9, 1986 (original)
March 26, 1987 (increase)
|Designated NHLD||June 30, 1987|
Bonneville Lock and Dam // consists of several run-of-the-river dam structures that together complete a span of the Columbia River between the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington at River Mile 146.1. The dam is located 40 miles (64 km) east of Portland, Oregon, in the Columbia River Gorge. The primary functions of Bonneville Lock and Dam are electrical power generation and river navigation. The dam was built and is managed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Electrical power generated at Bonneville is distributed by the Bonneville Power Administration. Bonneville Lock and Dam is named for Army Capt. Benjamin Bonneville, an early explorer credited with charting much of the Oregon Trail. The Bonneville Dam Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1987.
Prior to the New Deal, development of the Columbia River with flood control, hydroelectricity, navigation and irrigation was deemed as important. In 1929, the US Army Corps of Engineers published the 308 Report that recommended 10 dams on the river but no action was taken until the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration and the New Deal. Now at this time, America was in the Great Depression, and the dam's construction provided jobs and other economic benefits to the Pacific Northwest. Inexpensive hydroelectricity gave rise, in particular, to a strong aluminum industry. During the New Deal and funded from the Public Works Administration, in 1934, two of the larger projects were started, the Grand Coulee Dam and the Bonneville Dam. 3,000 workers in non-stop eight-hour shifts, from the relief or welfare rolls were paid 50-cents an hour for the work on the dam as well as raising local roads for the reservoir.
To create the Bonneville Dam and Lock, The Army Corps of Engineers first built one of the largest scale models in history of the proposed dam, the section of river it was to be located on, and its various components to aid in the study of the construction. First a new lock and a powerhouse was constructed which were on the south (Oregon) side of Bradford Island, and a spillway on the north (Washington) side. Coffer dams had to be built in order to block half of the river and clear a construction site where the foundation could be reached. These projects, part of the Bonneville Dam were completed in 1937.
Both the cascades and the old lock structure were submerged by the Bonneville Reservoir, also known as Lake Bonneville, the reservoir that formed behind the dam. The original navigation lock at Bonneville was opened in 1938 and was, at that time, the largest single-lift lock in the world. Although the dam began to produce hydroelectricity in 1937, Commercial electricity began its transfer from the dam in 1938.
A second powerhouse (and dam structure) was started in 1974 and completed in 1981. The second powerhouse was built by widening the river channel on the Washington side, creating Cascades Island between the new powerhouse and the original spillway. The combined electrical output of the two power houses at Bonneville is now over 1 million kilowatts.
Despite its world record size in 1938, Bonneville Lock became the smallest of seven locks built subsequently at different locations upstream on the Columbia and Snake Rivers; eventually a new lock was needed at Bonneville. This new structure was built on the Oregon shore, opening to ship and barge traffic in 1993. The old lock is still present, but is no longer used.
- Owner: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District
- Location: On Columbia River about 40 miles upstream from Portland, Oregon
- First Powerhouse – Constructed in 1933-37; Dam 313 m (1,027 ft) long x 77 feet (23 m) high forebay; 10 generators with a nominal total output capacity of 526.7 MW; Overload capacity 577 MW.
- Spillway – Constructed 1933-37; 18 gates over a length of 442 m (1,450 ft); maintains the reservoir (upriver) usually 18 m (59 ft) above the river on the downstream side;
- Second Powerhouse – Constructed 1974-82; Dam 300.5 m (986 ft) long x 77 feet (23 m) high forebay; 8 generators (plus two at fish ladders) with a nominal total generating capacity of 558.2 MW; Overload capacity 612 MW.
- Bonneville Lock – Constructed from 1987 to 1993 at a cost of $341 million; 26 m (85 ft) wide, 206 m (676 ft) long; transit time is approx. 30 minutes. Replaced earlier smaller lock built 1938.
- Lake Bonneville – 77 km (48 mi) long reservoir on the Columbia River created by Bonneville Dam; part of the Columbia-Snake Inland Waterway.
The Bonneville Dam blocked the migration of white sturgeon to their upstream spawning areas. Sturgeon still spawn in the area below the dam and the lower Columbia River supports a healthy sturgeon population. Small very depressed populations of white sturgeon persist in the various reservoirs upstream.
To cope with fish migration problems, the dam features fish ladders to help native salmon and steelhead get past the dam on their journey upstream to spawn. The large concentrations of fish swimming upstream serves as a tourist attraction during the spawning season. California Sea Lions are also attracted to the large number of fish, and are often seen around the base of the dam during the spawning season. By 2006, the growing number of crafty sea lions and their impact on the salmon population have become worrisome to the Army Corps of Engineers and environmentalists. Historically, pinnipeds such as sea lions and seals hunted salmon in the Columbia River as far as The Dalles and Celilo Falls, 200 miles (320 km) from the sea, as remarked upon by people such as George Simpson in 1841.
Creating electricity was a sensitive issue at the time of the Bonneville Dam's construction, which was funded with federal dollars. The Franklin D. Roosevelt administration wanted the electricity produced to be a public source of power and prevent energy monopolies. Advocates for private sale of the electricity were opposed to this, and they did not want the government to interfere. In 1937, the Bonneville Project Act was signed by Roosevelt, giving the dam's power over to the public and creating the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). A rate of $17.50 per kilowatt-year was maintained by the BPA for the next 28 years.
Power production is the primary function of the Bonneville Dam. The two Bonneville powerhouses generate about 5 billion kWh of electricity each year. The Bonneville Dam supplies nearly 500,000 homes with electricity, assuming each household consumes 10,000 kWh of electricity per year. This makes the dam's cost of power to about 1.2 cents/kWh. This is fairly high when comparing the power costs throughout the years of operation of the Bonneville mainly because the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is still paying off the second powerhouse which was built in 1982. In 1997 alone, the Bonneville Dam produced energy worth over $100 million.
A Bonneville Dam Kaplan turbine after 61 years of service
- Cascade Locks and Canal, which preceded the construction of the dam
- Grand Coulee Dam, a much larger dam far upstream on the Columbia River
- Charles McNary, a U.S. Senator from Oregon who was instrumental in passing legislation to build the dam
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
- "Bonneville Dam Historic District". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
- "The Columbia River System Inside Story". BPA.gov. pp. 14–15. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1792.html General Interest, Built 1934
- "Model of Bonneville Dam Aids in Study of River" Popular Mechanics, April 1935
- http://www.ohs.org/education/oregonhistory/historical_records/dspDocument.cfm?doc_ID=00056187-B22F-1E35-925B80B05272006C Workers at Bonneville Dam
- Bonneville Dam Brochure  accessed 24 Dec 2010
- Stephen Dow Beckham and Donald C. Jackson (Undated). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Bonneville Dam Historic District / Bonneville Project (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-06-22 and PDF (469 KB)
- "Elevators for Fish to Save Salmon Canning Industry" Popular Science Monthly, March 1935
- [dead link]
- Slide 1
- Mackie, Richard Somerset (1997). Trading Beyond the Mountains: The British Fur Trade on the Pacific 1793-1843. Vancouver: University of British Columbia (UBC) Press. pp. 191–192. ISBN 0-7748-0613-3. online at Google Books
- Bonneville Lock and Dam. A National Historic Landmark Serving the Northwest. 2001. U.S. Government Printing Office, 2001-691-677. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District, public information pamphlet distributed at the Bonneville Lock and Dam visitor centers.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bonneville Dam.|
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Bonneville Lock and Dam
- Bonneville Power Administration
- Dams of the Columbia Basin & Their Effects on the Native Fishery
- Bonneville Project: 42 photos and 76 data pages, at Historic American Building Survey