100 years ago: Supervisor of Panama Canal construction says Pend Oreille River option to irrigate Columbia Basin superior to Grand Coulee pumping
Sat., April 9, 2022
Gen. George W. Goethals issued his long-awaited report on the Columbia Basin irrigation project – and Spokane civic leaders could not have been happier.
He came down on the side of the “gravity” option – which was the proposal to take water from the Pend Oreille River and send it hundreds of miles through tunnels and canals to arid lands in the middle of the state.
This was the proposal Spokane interests favored, largely because the project was centered more directly on Spokane. The other proposal – the “pumping” option – called for a big dam to be built at Grand Coulee. The water would then be pumped uphill, held in a reservoir, and distributed in canals.
Goethals, in his report, said the gravity option was feasible and presented no unusual challenges. The pumping option, on the other hand, presented unusual construction difficulties. For those reasons, he recommended the gravity project.
Goethals’ approval was important, since he was the man responsible for the Panama Canal project. The Spokesman-Review editorial page opined that Goethals’ endorsement of gravity over pumping “disposes of that question.”
Not so fast. His recommendation was not binding. Many years later, a version of the Grand Coulee pumping proposal would eventually win out.
Also on this day
(From the Associated Press)
1865: Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.