Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Where They Almost Damned the Grand Canyon...

 Is there a limit to the destruction that humans can do? Yesterday's post concerned our desire to control the natural world around us, which in the case of the Colorado River meant the building of mega-dams, giant piles of concrete that pretend to hold back the floods, and dole out the riches of gravitationally produced electricity. Unfortunately such mega-dams were built with a priority of utility over beauty.
Of course, hardly anyone can profit from beauty, and if only a few people know of a place or have ever seen it, it can be easy to subvert a place to the profit of a few. After visiting one of the mega-dams, we explored a little-known road that actually reaches the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It follows Peach Springs Canyon and Diamond Creek to the Colorado River in about 20 bumpy dirt road miles. It is well known to river-runners, as the road serves as a take out point for river trips.
As we cooled our feet in the water, we had to contemplate that sixty years ago, this place was slated to become the next big dam on the river. The reservoir would have inundated miles of national park land upstream. It was unthinkable, and in the fashion of the thinking of the time, the dam was built instead in a place that only a few hundred people had ever seen: Glen Canyon.

It's hard to contemplate what was lost.  And only slightly a relief to know that at least one place was saved.

No comments: