The years between 1949 and 1975 were dam-building years along the Pacific Northwest's Columbia and Snake Rivers. During those twenty-five years the Bureau of Reclamation, the Corps of Engineers, and private entities such as Pacific Power, Portland General Electric, and the Idaho Power Company turned the previously free-flowing rivers into a series of quiet lakes. Just as a great river influences the lives of the people in its watershed, so do the acts of those people influence the life of the river. Without water, people die. Without peoples' concern, a river dies.
In 1948, Bill Gulick witnessed, firsthand, what can happen to a region and a city when the power of a river is not respected. Breaking through its dikes, the Columbia destroyed a great deal of property and took many lives in northwest Portland, Oregon. That catastrophe formed the basis of Gulick's "Roll on Columbia" series of which The Dam Builders is the fourth, and final, volume.
In The Dam Builders Bill Gulick explores what people and corporations have done to the Columbia River and the price we must pay for it.