Glen Canyon Dam

Glen Canyon Dam

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Glen Canyon Dam

This extended essay will analyze the rhetoric of authors discussing the Glen Canyon Dam. These authors include: Jeff Rubin (The Place No One Knew), John McPhee (Encounters with the Archdruid), Russell Martin (A story that stands like a dam: Glen Canyon and the struggle for the soul of the West), and Jared Farmer (Glen Canyon dammed: inventing Lake Powell and the Canyon country). There are always two sides to an argument, one for one against.

All seven authors write of the Glen Canyon Dam, and the controversy surrounding the draining of Lake Powell. All of the authors do not actually want the dam to be taken down. Each author talks about what was destroyed by filling Glen Canyon up. They all recognize that Glen Canyon can not be saved, but another dam can be prevented from happening again somewhere else.

A pamphlet handed out at the visitor’s center of Glen Canyon Dam states:
“The mission of the Bureau of Reclamation is to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public” (Glen Canyon Dam)

This statement ensures the reader that the dam was built “for the people” doing this without stating any facts that prove the statement. This statement also does not state why the U.S. government built Glen Canyon dam.

This pamphlet wants to educate people as to the uses of Glen Canyon. The dangers and the fun that can be had on the lake that was made by the Glen Canyon Dam. “Some of the shoreline around Lake Powell is loose and can slip and fall”. (Glen canyon Dam) warning the public as to what to watch for. The pamphlet goes on to say; “Dangerous sections of Lake Powell’s shoreline are too numerous to mark and can appear quickly after a change in the water level or after rainy weather”. (Glen Canyon Dam) The author is saying that not every dangerous area can be marked. By writing this the author is ensuring safety against lawsuits.

In Glen Canyon Dammed: Inventing Lake Powell and the Canyon Country, Jared Farmer agrees with the draining of Lake Powell. Farmer goes on to write, “Consider the river that flows through Grand Canyon: it’s not the real thing. It’s the programmed discharge from Glen Canyon Dam”. (Farmer pg. XIII) In this statement Farmer is saying that he does agree with the dam coming down, although saying that people have their own opinions.

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Farmer takes the stance of not having the lake drained. Farmer writes that some “environmentalists, scoff, that Glen Canyon Dam is too big, too important to mess with”. (Farmer Pg.XVII) Farmer wants to get across that not everyone is against the dam.
Although Farmer agrees with the dam coming down, he realizes that this might not happen. “I never knew the place; I came to a world without it. What’s the use in hating it? I’d rather make peace with the place, though heaven knows it’s hard.” Farmer is putting his own opinion into the essay. Farmer, by putting in his opinion, wants to relate to the reader. Farmer does not know who will be reading this. He wants the reader to know both sides of the story.

Farmer goes on to change the subject back to negativity towards the dam. “Five million cubic yards of concrete choking a river”. (Farmer 1999) Farmer is putting the dam into perspective, showing just how big it is, by using words. With the purpose of giving the reader facts. Farmer then states the geographic problem with the dam; “Utah’s scenic hinterland has become coveted real estate”. (Farmer pg. XXIII) Farmer is saying that this beautiful land has become a money making machine.

At the end of the essay is a quote from the late Barry Goldwater, it reads:
Of all the votes I have cast in the 20-odd years I have been in [the Senate], if there is one that stands out above all that I would change if I had the chance, it was a vote I cast to construct Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. While Glen Canyon has created the most beautiful lake in the world and has brought millions of dollars into my state and the state of Utah, nevertheless, I think of that river as it was when I was a boy. And that is the way I would like to see it again.” (Farmer pg.XXVII)

By putting this quote the end of the essay Farmer wants to leave people thinking. This is an attempt to get across his view of the argument.

In A story that stands like a dam: Glen Canyon and the struggle for the soul of the West, Russell Martin compares and contrasts the many issues of Glen Canyon Dam. Starting out by stating “the Bureau of Reclamation’s Glorious dam-building days are done”. Martin is putting his own opinion into the essay, saying what he feels about Glen Canyon Dam.
Martin goes on to discuss what would happen if Lake Powell were ever drained.
If Lake Powell is ever entirely drained, the dam itself will have to be dismantled, or blasted out of the canyon with a percisely placed nuclear bomb, or new diversion tunnels will need to be dug-fat and lengthy and hugely high-dollar tunnels whose upstream portals will have to be fitted with technologically miraculous gates installed by teams of daredevil divers in cumbersome pressure suits working thousands of hours at the black and icy bottom of this oh-so contentious inland sea”. (Martin pg.X)

Martin like Farmer is putting the dam into perspective. Martin is doing this by using words and not pictures. Stating that a nuclear bomb might be used makes people afraid. Martin wants the reader to know what exactly will happen if the dam came down.
Also like Farmer, Martin uses former supporters of the dam, saying they made a mistake. One such quote come from Wayne Asinall ”my whole ambition was to see western water made available for development of the west.” (Martin pg. 325) Farmers goes on to quote Gay Stavely as saying; “he’d happily surrender every dime he made from Lake Powell if he could get Glen Canyon back.” (Martin pg.326) The last example Martin uses is Dave Forman, saying what his last attempt at sabotage would be. “I would hijack a semi truck, fill it full of fertilizer and soak it down with diesel fuel and drive it onto Glen Canyon dam”. (Martin pg.327)

Each of the quotes is letting informing the reader that not everyone likes Glen Canyon Dam. Not only that, but also some might take violent measures to take the dam down. Martin does this without stating his personal feelings on the issue.
Martin tells of the view the workers had coming back to the dam.
Old timers who had lived in the construction camp but who hadn’t returned in twenty-five years surprised to discover that page now looked a lot like American communities everywhere, its commercial streets lined with franchised restaurants and shopping plazas, its park and its golf course green and shaded now, new homes spreading across the mesa top, the three impossibly tall exhaust towers of the Navajo Generating System-its power output dwarfing the electrical generation down at the dam-now the predominant landmarks”. (Martin pg.331)

Martin is showing how when the dam was built people did not understand the meaning of it. Martin’s writes this essay is to show people that the Glen Canyon dam was a mistake. That not all the facts were thought of, no consequences were weighed.

In The Place No One Knew Jeff Rubin discusses the reasons for draining Lake Powell, the first thing that Rubin points out is:

“The canyon, contained many natural arches and hundreds of ruins built by the Anasazi people and early American Indians. But because it was extremely remote, few people saw it before construction of the Glen Canyon Dam in 1956 flooded the landmark”. (Rubin 1999)

Rubin is pointing out to the reader that we never knew this place. If we never knew it, then how could we ever miss it? Going on to quote Adam Werbach as saying,”our goal is to let the American people know this place, and we believe they’ll choose to reclaim it.” (Rubin 1999) Rubin’s point is, why would we want to reclaim something we never knew.
The author is not stated in Current Controversy: Draining Lake Powell. What is discussed is once again the controversy of the Glen Canyon dam. “Environmentalists argue that Glen Canyon Dam was originally built to control flooding and as it no longer serves that purpose, the lake should be drained.” ( 1999) So as opposed to the pamphlet, the author is saying that the dam no longer serves a purpose. The author is trying to persuade the reader to agree. A quote by Steve Hannon states that “the river has not produced the average 15 million acre feet of water annually that was predicted”. ( 1999) The author is showing the reader that the dam is no longer doing its job.

The author then goes on to discuss the reasons why the dam should not be taken down. “There would be a substantial loss of revenues if the lake were to be drained as the recreational uses of Lake Powell (white water, jet-skiing) bring in many visitors”. ( 1999) The author is showing the reader the disappointment people will have if the lake is drained. The author then goes on to show what the community would face; “Colorado River Storage Project customers would experience a significant rate increase for electricity”. ( 1999) Here the author is showing just what would be in store for the community that relies on the dam’s power.

One thing that is mentioned in Current Controversy: Draining Lake Powell, is the Sierra Club. A Utah chapter does not agree with the draining of the lake. Saying that the Sierra club has “an obligation to keep the memory of Glen Canyon alive and never to allow that kind of boondoggle to happen again”. ( 1999) The author is showing that nothing can be done now, but something can be prevented.

25 Reasons Not to Drain Lake Powell also does not have an author listed. This article lists the many reasons not to drain Lake Powell. Some of the reasons pointed out are:
“The present day Colorado River riparian jungle of insects, plants and animal populations would be scoured out and destroyed.

The city of page would lose their water rights with the Bureau of reclamation.
Recreational opportunities to fish, boat would be gone as well as hiking access.
Hundreds of millions of dollars would be spent to clean up the mess.
A large number of people would lose their homes and their jobs.
Long waiting lists exceeding 10 or more years would develop.
River hygiene would worsen the ability to find drinking water.
The stench and odor of a dead, decaying organic ooze that could last for decades.” ( 1999)

This article is putting the environment of the Colorado on a sort of death list. Saying that all of these things will die, once the lake is drained. The author leaves no explanation for the list; the list starts and then ends.

In Encounters with the Archdruid, John McPhee states from the beginning that he has a personal attachment to the issue. McPhee writes this story of traveling down the river with Floyd Dominy and David Brower. Besides the argument that the dam should never have been built, the draining of the lake is the issue. Early on in the trip McPhee states that Brower told Dominy of the danger in keeping the dam there. Brower insisted that Lake Powell would eventually silt up. In response Dominy stated “They said Hoover dam was going to silt up Lake Mead in thirty years, for thirty years, lake Mead caught all the god Damned silt in the Colorado River, and Hoover has not been impaired.” (McPhee pg176)

McPhee is showing both sides to the story. Even though McPhee has a personal relationship with Brower, it does not effect the story. Throughout the story McPhee goes back and forth between Dominy and Brower. Making sure not to show his own personal view.
Each of these authors had the purpose of educating people. Each author had a view and they wanted people to see this view. Each author did this without shoving it down his or her throats.

Works Cited

Farmer, Jared, Glen Canyon Dammed: inventing Lake Powell and the Canyon country, University of Arizona Press, 1999
McPhee, John, Encounters with the Archdruid, Forbes Custom Publishing, 1999 In J. Ackeaman, A sense of Place

Rubin, Jeff, The Place No One Knew,, 1999

Martin, Russell, A story that stands like a dam: Glen Canyon and the struggle for the soul of the west, University of Utah Press, 1999

25 Reasons not to drain Lake Powell,, 1999

Current Controversy: Draining Lake Powell,, 1999

Glen Canyon Dam,U.S. Government Printing office, 1995
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