John Day Dam

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John Day Dam
The dam as seen from Washington
Location Sherman County, Oregon / Klickitat County, Washington
United States
Coordinates 45°42′59″N 120°41′40″W / 45.71639°N 120.69444°W / 45.71639; -120.69444Coordinates: 45°42′59″N 120°41′40″W / 45.71639°N 120.69444°W / 45.71639; -120.69444
Construction began 1958
Opening date 1971
Construction cost US$511 million
Dam and spillways
Type of dam Concrete gravity, run-of-the-river
Impounds Columbia River
Height 56 m (184 ft)
Length 2,327 m (7,635 ft)
Spillway type Service, gate-controlled
Creates Lake Umatilla
Total capacity 2,530,000 acre⋅ft (3.12×109 m3)
Power Station
Operator(s) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Type Run-of-the-river
Turbines 16 × 135 MW
Installed capacity 2,160 MW
Annual generation 8,418 GWh (2009)[1]

The John Day Dam is a concrete gravity run-of-the-river dam spanning the Columbia River in the northwestern United States.[2] The dam features a navigation lock plus fish ladders on both sides. The John Day Lock has the highest lift (110 feet) of any U.S. lock.[3] The reservoir impounded by the dam is Lake Umatilla,[4] and it runs 76.4 miles (123 kilometers) up the river channel to the foot of the McNary Dam. John Day Dam is part of the Columbia River Basin system of dams.


John Day Dam is located 28 miles (45 km) east of the city of The Dalles, Oregon, and just below the mouth of the John Day River. The closest town on the Washington side is Goldendale, 20 miles (32 km) north. The closest town on the Oregon side is Rufus, Oregon. Its crest elevation is approximately 570 feet (170 m) above sea level. It joins Sherman County, Oregon with Klickitat County, Washington, 216 miles (348 kilometers) upriver from the mouth of the Columbia near Astoria, Oregon.


Construction of the dam began in 1958 and was completed in 1971, making it the newest dam on the lower Columbia, at a total cost of US$511 million. John Day Dam was built and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The condemnation of land upstream of the dam resulted led to the Supreme Court case United States v. Rands[5], a well-known case regarding the constitutional doctrine of navigable servitude. The dam's power generation capacity is 2,480,000 kW (overload capacity). The dam underwent a major repair to the upper lock gate in 2010, as documented in the National Geographic Channel program "World's Toughest Fixes".[6]



  • Altitude: 266 feet (81 m) above sea level
  • Height: 183 feet (56 m)
  • Length: 7,365 feet (2,327 m)
  • Navigation lock:
    • Single-lift
    • 86 feet (26 m) wide
    • 675 feet (206 m) long
  • Powerhouse
    • Sixteen 135,000 kW units
    • Total capacity: 2,160 MW
    • Overload capacity: 2,485 MW
  • Spillway
    • Gates: 20
    • Length: 1,228 feet (374 m)

See also[edit]



External links[edit]

  • John Day Dam US Army Corps Engineers [1] U.S. Army Corps of Engineers