Saturday, June 3, 2023

1910 Buffalo Bill Dam on Shoshone River near Cody, WY

Dam: (Satellite, 5,428 photos)
Four Power Generation Plants:
Shoshone: (Satellite) 1922-1980 6mw    Unit #3 was replaced on 1991 with a 3mw unit.
Buffalo Bill: (Satellite) 1992 18mw
Spirit Mountain Energy Dissipation Structure: (Satellite?) 1994 4.5mw, wet season only
Heart Mountain: (Satellite) 1948 5mw, wet season only

I wish the federal website provided a higher resolution copy of this photo. This view shows the original powerhouse. The primary purpose of this dam is irrigation.
"When completed in 1910, Buffalo Bill Dam stood as an engineering marvel, one of the first concrete arch dams built in the United States. At 325 feet high, it also was the highest dam in the world (surpassing New York’s Croton Dam)." It currently irrigates 93,000 acres.

The lighting in this view shows the 25' (7.6m) crest added to the top during 1985-93 to increase the reservoir capacity by 260,000 acre-feet. That also added the visitor center . "Atop the new crest are aeration piers which support a walkway across the dam. The piers are designed to help the crest function as an emergency spillway in the event the dam is overtopped during extremely heavy runoff. The dam's spillway, which runs through the mountain under the visitor center, was enlarged, and radial arm gates were installed to allow for controlled spilling. The gatehouse structure located across the parking lot from the visitor center, although mostly below ground level, is equivalent to a 10-story building, making it among the tallest structures in Wyoming." [brochure via usbr]
The reservoir impounds 646,565 acre-feet of water at 5,393.5' elevation. At that elevation, the outlet works have the capacities of 3,358cfs for the left abutment and 450cfs for the lower level. At 5,410', the gated spillway has a capacity of 84,725cfs. [usbr]
City of Cody posted
Standing as an engineering model and example for its time, the Buffalo Bill Dam once stood as the highest dam in the world at 325 feet tall. Built between 1905 and 1910, the Buffalo Bill Dam was one of the first concrete arch dams built in the United States.
Diana Brown: My great grandfather, Edward Martin Brown, died while helping to build this dam. He was in a tunnel with another worker when an explosion occurred. He was blown into the river where they found his body a few days later.
Ann Tanner: My Grandfather, James B. Wasden, was on the crew of the first concrete pour of this dam. Amazing story about a continuous concrete pour back when it was all done by hand.
Rob Jordan shared

I think the spillway is releasing water in the above photo and the left-abutment outlet works is releasing water in the photo below.
Mike Shotts Cody, Jun 2019

More spillway action:
Brian Hoover, Jun 2018

Fred Stuit commented on Cody's post
My Mom and grandparents were there in 1927.
Fred Stuit commented on Cody's post
From the dam looking downstream 1972

Brochure via usbr
"Because there were no natural deposits of sand and gravel at the site, both had to be manufactured from granite. Clean pieces of granite weighing from 25 to 200 pounds were hand placed in the concrete. The boulders make up about 25 percent of the masonry of the dam. "

I think this is the upstream side of the dam before the reservoir was filled.

Four photos from Shoshone Powerplant. "Shoshone Power Plant began operation in 1922 and the third unit came on line in 1931. The original total installed capacity of the three units was 6,012 kilowatts. In 1980 the plant was shut down due to the deteriorated condition of the units. Units 1 and 2 remain in place in a decommissioned status. Unit 3 was removed and replaced with a new 3,000 kilowatt unit in 1991."




The power plant near the dam was added by 1992 and generates 18mw using a Francis turbine with a head of 266'.

"The primary purpose of the Spirit Mountain Power Plant is to dissipate energy of the water from the pressurized supply conduit from Buffalo Bill Reservoir before it enters the unpressurized supply canal which feeds the Heart Mountain Power Plant and the Heart Mountain Canal. The secondary purpose of the power plant is to produce electrical power. Spirit Mountain Power Plant consists of one 4,500-kilowatt generator."
This operates only during the "wet" season.

Two photos from Heart Mountain Powerplant. "The Heart Mountain Power Plant is at the outlet of Shoshone Canyon Conduit about 4 miles southwest of Cody, Wyoming. The capacity of the plant is 5,000 kilowatts" The power plant and the Shosone Canyon Conduit (water tunnel) feeding it have had signficant maintenance issues.


The outlet of the Heart Mountain Powerhouse goes into a siphon under the river to feed the 26-mile long Heart Mountain Canal. "The initial capacity of the canal is 915 cubic feet per second. The siphon is part steel and part concrete, 1,640 feet long, and 10.25 feet in diameter." [usbr_project]

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