This paper focuses on the controversy around the proposed damming of the Rufiji River at Stiegler's Gorge that followed the publication of the 1967 United States Bureau of Reclamation's survey of the Rufiji basin. Recommending the establishment of a National Water Resource Council and the construction of Stiegler's Gorge Dam, the report set off a debate about the river's development. The proposed dam served as a model of river basin development that had been carried by international agencies like the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and Bureau of Reclamation to all parts of the world. Based on archival and field work, this paper examines the process by which this American model of river basin planning and technologies came to dominate Tanzania's postwar development agenda. The case illustrates how both international and Tanzanian actors shaped the debate about the transfer of large-scale hydropower projects to postcolonial Africa.