The United States is home to some of the world’s biggest and most impressive dams. With these immense structures come many incredible stories of engineering, perseverance, and accomplishment; from providing power to millions of people every day, controlling destructive flooding events, or producing a vital source for agriculture.
These dams are stories in themselves: fascinating tales about the craftsmanship behind each construction and their lasting influence on our everyday lives – today we’re exploring the ten largest dams located in America!
The 10 Largest Dams in the United States
Despite having only 3% of the world’s dams, the United States is home to some of the most impressive feats of engineering.
The ten largest dams reach massive heights and contain incredible amounts of water – each with its own unique history and story.
Many of these oversized dams were built between 1880 and 1925 during a rush for increased water storage and energy production capabilities, but today they still stand as a testament to American ingenuity and ambition.
The Top 5 Dams By Height
Standing 770 feet tall, the Oroville Dam is a towering landmark in Butte County, California. Constructed from 1961 to 1968 and capable of holding up to 3.5 million acre-feet of water, this gravity dam was built on the Feather River for flood control, hydroelectric power production, and water storage for users in the Central Valley and Southern California.
Since its completion, the Oroville Dam has been a major source of both economic and infrastructure development with an estimated restoring value of $38 million alongside the support of numerous recreational activities such as fishing and camping.
Its importance to California is even more evident today as policymakers look to bolster its safety and stability given consistent threats from floods or earthquakes that could potentially cause the dam’s collapse.
Standing 726 feet tall, the Hoover Dam is an awe-inspiring feat of engineering and a breathtaking sight to behold. Its construction in the 1930s encountered tremendous obstacles, yet its builders persevered and ultimately succeeded in creating an iconic monument linking the U.S. states of Nevada and Arizona.
The massive Hoover Dam provides hydroelectric power for much of the southwestern United States, but visitors come far and wide to appreciate its magnitude and grandeur firsthand. Seeing it firsthand is sure to leave you breathless!
Spectacular in size and scope, the 717-foot-tall Dworshak Dam stands as an engineering feat that has been providing clean hydroelectric power to Idahoans for the past half-century.
Built between the years of 1966 and 1973 in Clearwater County, the dam was designed with a steel-gravity section and 717 feet of U-shaped concrete.
Its generating capacity of 300 megawatts makes it not only one of Idaho’s most impressive structures but also a critical player in helping meet the state’s energy needs.
Indeed, Dworshak Dam stands out proudly among dams around the world, enabling local citizens to have a reliable source of renewable energy that’s good both economically and environmentally.
Glen Canyon Dam
Standing grandly 710 feet above the Colorado River, the Glen Canyon Dam dominates the spectacular desert landscape of northern Arizona. Built from 1956 to 1966 and first opened in 1963, this iconic structure holds back water from the 7 million-acre Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, providing a variety of vital services including electricity production, navigation, and flood control.
As one of the most impressive sites in a region full of noteworthy attractions, Glen Canyon Dam has inspired awe for generations of visitors making their way through this breathtaking corner of America.
New Bullards Bar Dam
New Bullards Bar Dam is standing 645 feet tall and proud on the North Yuba River, boasting of a 304-acre reservoir with 6 miles of shoreline! It looks like a modern-day marvel to behold. Built in 1967, this dam manages and provides irrigation services along with flood protection to Northern California communities.
The reservoir has become an important recreational spot as well, offering plenty of water-based activities such as fishing, swimming, and boat launching, to name a few. If you haven’t experienced the magnificence that is New Bullards Bar Dam yet, it’s time you did so now!
The Top 5 Dams By Water Capacity
The Hoover Dam is an iconic landmark in American engineering, with a whopping water capacity of 8.95 cubic miles. Its construction in the 1930s was a challenging feat; however, this impressive structure has since become a remarkable symbol of human ingenuity and invention.
What began as an ambitious mission to control flooding has now become a lasting reminder that water can be contained and utilized to generate electricity for nearby communities with enough foresight and committed workers.
Glen Canyon Dam
At Glen Canyon Dam, located along the Colorado River in Arizona, water capacity reaches a staggering 8.53 cubic miles! Water is released from Glen Canyon Dam to stabilize flows further downstream and is used for irrigation, hydroelectric power generation, and recreation.
As agreed upon by seven states that are stakeholders in the river, this amount of water must remain intact – making it essential for us to use it responsibly.
The Garrison Dam, situated on the Missouri River, has been serving a number of US states since 1954 when Pollock, South Dakota became submerged.
The incredible dam holds back an astonishing 7.05 cubic miles of water to supply North Dakota, Montana, and other nearby states with a crucial source of hydropower and keep their economies running efficiently.
With minimal maintenance, this reservoir offers a sustainable solution to the water needs of these regions.
The mighty Oahe Dam spans a staggering 218 miles along the majestic Missouri River and boasts an impressive water storage capacity of 6.98 cubic miles.
It is a multi-purpose powerhouse, providing hydroelectricity to surrounding areas, controlling flooding, offering recreational activities, and supplying irrigation.
The dam’s solid walls serve as formidable safeguarding agents, shielding nearby towns from severe water-related disasters.
Fort Peck Dam
Fort Peck Dam is an awe-inspiring engineering marvel that supplies invaluable resources and benefits to the American public.
It boasts an enormous water capacity of 5.52 cubic miles, which surpasses expectations for fulfilling power production, irrigation, and recreational needs.
Water released from the dam can traverse a staggering 6,000 miles through the Missouri River system; providing water to cities and water treatment facilities across the country.
From the Hoover Dam to Fort Peck Dam, we have seen how dams play an integral role in providing us with water for electricity, irrigation, and recreation.
These incredible engineering feats not only provide a reliable source of energy but also act as protective barriers against floods that can wreak havoc on communities downstream.