Brownlee Dam

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Brownlee Dam
Official nameBrownlee Dam
LocationHells Canyon,
Baker Co., Oregon / Washington Co., Idaho
Coordinates44°50′10″N 116°54′00″W / 44.836°N 116.9°W / 44.836; -116.9Coordinates: 44°50′10″N 116°54′00″W / 44.836°N 116.9°W / 44.836; -116.9
Construction began1955 [1][2]
Opening dateMay 9, 1958 (1958-05-09) [3][4]
63 years ago
Operator(s)Idaho Power Company
Dam and spillways
ImpoundsSnake River
Height420 feet (128 m)
CreatesBrownlee Reservoir
Total capacity1,426,700 acre feet (1.7598 km3)
Catchment area72,590 square miles (188,000 km2)
Surface area15,000 acres (61 km2)
Power Station
Installed capacity585.4 MW
Annual generation2,406.8 GWh
Brownlee Dam is located in the United States
Brownlee Dam
Location in the United States
Brownlee Dam is located in Idaho
Brownlee Dam
Location in Idaho

Brownlee Dam is a hydroelectric earth fill embankment dam in the western United States, on the Snake River on the Idaho-Oregon border, In Hells Canyon at river mile 285, it impounds the Snake River in the 58-mile (93 km)-long Brownlee Reservoir.

It is part of the Hells Canyon Project that also includes Hells Canyon Dam and Oxbow Dam, built and operated by Idaho Power Company. The first and upper-most of the three dams, its contractor was Morrison-Knudsen of Boise.[1][2][5] It started filling on May 9, 1958 (1958-05-09),[3] 63 years ago, flooding the community of Robinette.

The dam's powerhouse contains five generating units with a total nameplate capacity of 585.4 megawatts.

Lacking passage for migrating salmon, the three Hells Canyon Project dams blocked access by anadromous salmonids to a stretch of the Snake River drainage basin from Hells Canyon Dam up to Shoshone Falls, which naturally prevents any upstream fish passage to the upper Snake River basin.[6]


There is a 100-by-60-foot (30 by 18 m) private heliport, Brownlee Heliport, (FAA LID: OR75) located near the dam.

Namesake of the Brownlee Dam & Reservoir

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Brownlee dam one-third done". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. December 2, 1956. p. 26.
  2. ^ a b "Brownlee dam base readied". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. December 30, 1956. p. 12.
  3. ^ a b "Idaho Power shuts gates of big dam". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. May 10, 1958. p. 2.
  4. ^ "New dam goes into operation on Snake River". Florence Times. Alabama. Associated Press. May 10, 1958. p. 7.
  5. ^ "Brownlee dam excavation job more than half done". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. April 21, 1957. p. 20.
  6. ^ "Fence of voltage herds fish near Brownlee Dam". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. November 29, 1957. p. 15.

External links[edit]