The O’Shaughnessy Dam is a breathtaking construction feat. Although built a hundred years ago, it is still an amazing structure. The thundering waters and rising mist add to the drama.
Perhaps even more dramatic was the Hetch Hetchy Valley that was submerged with the filling of the reservoir behind the dam. Many considered it equal in beauty to the nearby Yosemite Valley.
While many environmental controversies are of fairly recent origin, the controversy over the construction of the O’Shaughnessy Dam began in the very early 1900s. Construction of the dam on public land required a special act of Congress.
Use this photo as a jumping-off point for an investigation of the history and controversies surrounding the dam. The issues of development vs preservation, natural beauty vs urban needs, public vs private land use, types of power generation, and water supply make for an interesting study and add historical perspective to contemporary issues.
Here are a few more photos of the dam and Hetch Hetchy from the ClipPix ETC website.