Buffalo Bill Dam

Buffalo Bill Dam

One of the towns that we passed through on this last trip was Cody, Wyoming.  Even though we were there for less than an hour we found it to be a very pleasant little place.  It’s small, but not too small, and seems to be a thriving community.  And it’s only about 50 miles east of Yellowstone (if the Yellowstone volcano ever does blow, these folks will be some of the first to know.  And some of the first victims.).  I think I could probably live there, although I’m guessing the winters can be fairly harsh.

Just a few miles west of Cody (on route 14) is the Shoshone River and Buffalo Bill Dam.  The dam was built between 1905 and 1910 and at its completion was the highest dam in the world (325 feet).  It was originally called the Shoshone Dam (not very original in my opinion) but was renamed in 1946 to honor Buffalo Bill Cody, the founder of Cody, Wyoming.  In 1985 the dam’s height was increased to 350 feet.  If you look at the picture above you can see where the top of the old construction meets the new construction.  They also built the walkway and a Visitor’s Center.  It’s an interesting place to visit, mostly because you can get so close.  You can’t get as close to Hoover or Glen Canyon Dam, at least not without a guide.  Of course, those two engineering marvels are more than twice as high and control a large percentage of the water and power available to much of the southwest.  Letting people run around loose might be a bad idea, I think.  

Like the guy in the picture, I spent a fair amount of time looking down the face of the dam into the canyon beyond.  It’s always a humbling experience, especially when you’re looking at granite walls that, at the base, are millions of years old.  After all this concrete has been reduced to pieces of dust, the granite walls will still be there.  It’s hard to fathom that kind of time span when your own point of reference is 60 or 70 years.  Or maybe “hard” isn’t the right word.  “Impossible” might be more appropriate.

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