FDR returns to Bonneville Dam for 75th anniversary
President Franklin D. Roosevelt returned Saturday to the site of his historic speech at the height of the Great Depression to recite the very speech he gave 75 years ago dedicating the Bonneville Dam on the mighty Columbia River, the most powerful river in North America.
The event marked the 75th anniversary of the completion of the dam that harnessed the Columbia's power for delivery to all corners of the Pacific Northwest. The river's power built the ships and plans that helped win World War II. The event also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Bonneville Power Administration, the federal power marketing agency that sells and delivers clean, low cost renewable power from Bonneville Dam and 30 other federal dams in the Columbia River Basin.
Construction of hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River endangered salmon and other fish and wildlife, but today in a spirit of partnership the tribes and federal agencies, once mired in litigious conflict, have created the largest ecosystem restoration program in the world.
President Roosevelt, played by Gerry Stamm, an actor known as Roosevelt's foremost impersonator, delivered his address to an audience of flag-waving Northwesterners at the Bradford Island Visitor Center against a backdrop of Bonneville Dam. FDR, accompanied by his dog Fala, arrived in a motorcade of more than twenty vintage automobiles from the 1930s. Also in attendance was BPA CEO and Administrator Steve Wright who reflected on the past 75 years, the challenges and the progress.
Children learned about how electricity is made and about the lifecycle of salmon. A traditional salmon bake shared bounty of the Columbia River.