Photo Essay - Parker Dam

By Sean Prophet

Parker Dam is the most beautiful dam I've seen. I call it the "Art Deco" dam. I'm not sure whether the designers were Art Deco aficionados, more likely it was just the period in which it was built (late 1930's). But what is so impressive is that they seemed to take the same care as the builders of ancient Roman temples. The concrete arch dam culminates in a semicircular tower for raising the spillway gates, which also presents a stunning fenestrated view of Lake Havasu. Huge bicycle type chains on the gates suggest a row of guillotines, and the light towers which adorn the roadway are ornate concrete phallic structures instead of the typical sterile steel models.

And it's not just a work of beauty. The engineering is world-class. Workers dug 235 feet below the visible base of the dam to place the foundations, the worlds' deepest. Because the dam was built as a self-sustaining system to store and provide water to Los Angeles and elsewhere, half the hydro-power is reserved for pumping. So nature has been harnessed to deliver the water hundreds of miles to Southern California, with no external power input. In fact, the other half of the power output is available for sale to the grid. Non-polluting, life-giving, the builders of Parker Dam also built Havasu, a lake legendary for good times, with famous party spots "the sandbar" and "copper canyon". Now that's genius in action.

History and Statistics of Parker Dam - U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The Publisher at Parker Dam