Pensacola Dam


Pensacola Dam was Oklahoma's first hydroelectric facility, built 1937-40. It is the world's longest multiple-arch dam, with 51 arches and 21 spillways spanning about one mile across the Grand River. Engineers chose the multiple-arch design because materials were scarce and, therefore, expensive. Labor, on the other hand, was abundant and cheap. Some 3,000 men worked on the project, earning about $16 per week. The dam was built by the Grand River Dam Authority, which the state had created in 1935 for that purpose. The dam impounds 66-mile-long Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, one of the largest reservoirs in the U.S.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Civil, Electrical, Environmental
Topic(s):Electricity
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:In an effort to get a dam across the Grand River, Vinita passed a law requiring all presidential trains to stop if they were passing through. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's whistle-stop re-election tour took him through Vinita in 1936. When his train stopped, FDR was greeted by a banner: "Let's Build Grand River Dam." He okayed funding in 1937.