Flaming Gorge Dam 50th Anniversary Celebration Event
On Saturday, August 16, 2014, against the backdrop of beautiful Flaming Gorge Reservoir, Reclamation hosted a community celebration in the visitor center parking area to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Flaming Gorge Dam and Powerplant. Former First Lady Claudia Johnson, known as "Lady Bird" originally dedicated the dam on August 17, 1964 at a similar community event marking the beginning of the dam's service life and vital role in the Colorado River Storage Project.
An estimated 150 – 200 people attended the celebration event which included a number of retired long-time Reclamation employees, current employees, community members, recreation/tourist visitors, and Utah state government officials. Acting Reclamation Commissioner Lowell Pimley flew in from Washington D.C., to speak at the event along with Upper Colorado Region Deputy Director Ann Gold. A unique commemorative plaque representing the Upper Colorado River Basin and Flaming Gorge Dam's important role in the Colorado River Storage Project, was unveiled and will be permanently mounted near the entrance of the visitor center.
The original fire engine Reclamation purchased in 1958, when the town of Dutch John was built to house the dam's construction workers and their families, was parked near the stage as a guest of honor at the ceremony. The engine was recently retired after 53 consecutive years of service because it no longer meets the new fire codes put into place. Because the engine represents an important reminder of the town's heritage, the engine will be the star attraction in a yet-to-be-built museum building in Dutch John. At the ceremony, Ann Gold presented the loan agreement and keys for the fire engine to Renee Wilde, chairwoman of the Daggett County Museum Board for this purpose. After the ceremony, a barbeque was provided for all the guests through the generous contributions of a number of organizations and private individuals including:
- Bridger Valley Electric Association
- Colorado River Energy Distributors Association
- Daggett County
- Flaming Gorge Area Chamber of Commerce
- Flaming Gorge Dam Employee's Association
- Flaming Gorge Recreation Services
- Flaming Gorge Resort
- Intermountain Natural History Association
- Various private individuals
In honor of the Flaming Gorge Dam's 50th anniversary, long-time Reclamation employee Ginger Reeve designed the artwork for a special cancellation stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service Dutch John Post Office from August 16 through September 13, 2014.
Flaming Gorge Dam is an important component of the Colorado River Storage Project authorized by Congress in 1956. The Colorado River Storage Project Act authorized four main water storage units including Glen Canyon, Flaming Gorge, Wayne Aspinall, and Navajo, as well as a number of participating projects. The combined live storage capacity of the main CRSP reservoirs is 30.6 million acre-feet with a combined power generation capacity of over 4.1 billion kilowatt-hours annually. Flaming Gorge Reservoir is the second largest of the CRSP Reservoirs (Lake Powell is the largest) – extending about 91 miles upstream into Wyoming and storing about 3.8 million acre-feet of water. In addition to the water and power benefits provided by the dam and reservoir, a number of recreational opportunities are available that attract visitors from around the country. One of the primary attractions is the Blue-Ribbon designated fishing both on the reservoir and in the Green River below the dam. Other recreation opportunities available throughout the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area include boating, swimming, hiking, and camping.
When Lady Bird Johnson dedicated the dam in August 1964, she acknowledged the significant accomplishment the dam represented as part of the visionary future of western settlement that began with John Wesley Powell's famous expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers. In her remarks that day she said, "How many people have dreamed and planned and built this great reservoir into being! I wish John Wesley Powell could again board his boat at Green River City and float through Flaming Gorge to see how much greater today's reality than yesterday's dream."
In her conclusion, she encouraged continued optimism, innovation, and working together to build a better future. Almost to the day 50 years later, the unfolding of that future and the many collective benefits made possible through the foresight put into action by the visionary framers of the Colorado River Storage Project, were celebrated. The 50th anniversary event not only commemorated the dam's 50 years of service, it was a celebration of the future that will be possible in the next 50 years because of Flaming Gorge Dam and the Colorado River Storage Project.