Lake Powell History

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Lake Powell is one of the biggest artificial lakes in the country. Before the lake was constructed in 1956, it was located at the confluence of the Colorado and San Juan Rivers, a former Native American holy site. These days, the lake continues to see millions of visitors annually, and has become one of America's biggest outdoor recreational playgrounds. Read More

The place where the San Juan River met the Colorado River—before Lake Powell was built in 1956—was a holy, private place for Native Americans. It was said that two sacred dieties lived on the more than 1,900 miles of shoreline that the two lakes created. The 278-foot arch over the rivers, known as Rainbow Bridge, was a site of worship. In 1956, however, the face of these two bodies of water changed forever. President Eisenhower approved the construction of Lake Powell in 1956 and named the project after John Wesley Powell, known as the first European explorer of the Colorado River. The construction project included the building of Glen Canyon Dam, which today is capable of producing 800 megawatts of electricity, most of which powers large cities in the West. Dam workers founded the town of Page, Arizona, which today caters to tourists and recreationalists. In the 1970s, the Navajo Generating Station, a coal plant, was built in Page. It still provides electricity for metropolises as far away as LA to this day; however, pollution and haze have become issues. Today, millions of recreationalists still enjoy Lake Powell annually, and a big issue has become preserving that experience for generations to come.

Other History Resources

John Wesley Powell River History Museum

The John Wesley Powell River History Museum strives to preserve the expeditions and adventures of John Wesley Powell as well as well as showcase exhibits on natural history of the river.

John Wesley Powell Memorial Museum

The John Wesley Powell Memorial Museum and Visitor Center offers information on history, the environment and conservation in the Lake Powell area.