The United States Army Corps of Engineers constructed Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River in the 1930s to improve river navigation and provide hydroelectric power to the Pacific Northwest. This paper demonstrates how the Corps’ approach to the planning and design of the dam’s structures, machines, materials, and processes fostered engineering innovations. These innovations included a new kind of concrete, a portland-pozzolan cement mix that reduced temperature-induced cracking in the massive structure; a new spillway design incorporating energy dissipating structural features; and a new kind of water turbine that enabled efficient power production under widely variable hydraulic flow conditions, adjustable-blade Kaplan turbines. The Corps’ success in the development of innovative engineering designs at Bonneville Dam illustrates the central role of civil engineers in the process of planning, designing, and building major public works.


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pp. 727-751
Launched on MUSE
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