McNary Dam spans the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. The dam sits just off of Interstate 82 and features a number of interesting local attractions, some right at the dam and some nearby. Watching barges make their way through the locks is a very cool process to see. If you’re driving through the area, you should be able to find plenty of different things to see and do to make it an entertaining stop on your trip.
Fun Facts About McNary Dam
-Construction on McNary Dam began in 1947 and it opened in 1954.
-McNary Dam is operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
-McNary Dam touches Benton County on the Washington side of the Columbia River and on the Oregon side it touches Umatilla County.
-McNary Dam is 183 feet tall.
-McNary Dam measures in at 7,365 feet long.
-The water backed up behind McNary Dam is known as Lake Wallula.
-Lake Wallula extends 64 miles up the Columbia River and even up the Snake River all the way to Ice Harbor Dam.
-McNary Dam is home to 14 power producing turbine generators.
-It is 292 miles from McNary Dam, by river, to the mouth of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.
-McNary Dam is named after Senator Charles L. McNary of Oregon. The original name of the dam was slated to be Umatilla Dam.
-McNary Dam operates two separate fish ladders, one along each shore.
-The navigational lock on the Washington side of McNary Dam measures in at 86 feet wide and 683 feet long.
-Boats and barges entering the McNary Dam navigational locks are lifted or lowered an average of 75 feet to transition to the water level on the other side of the dam.
-Two turbines at McNary Dam have a unique purpose when compared to other dams in the region. They are intended to power the dam itself, making it completely self-sufficient. The point of this is that in the event of a large scale power outage, power production at McNary Dam would not stop and it could be used to eventually bring the entire region back online.
-1986 saw plans for a second powerhouse at McNary Dam submitted. These plans were eventually cancelled in 1991.
-McNary Dam features 22 spillway gates.