Roosevelt Dam Centennial Celebration

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The public is invited Saturday, March 19 to celebrate the 100th birthday of Theodore Roosevelt Dam by taking a walk across the crest of the dam as part of a free centennial event offered by Salt River Project, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service.

Festivities will originate at the Roosevelt Lake Visitors’ Center, located on State Route 188, about a mile and a half east of the dam, starting at 9 a.m. and continuing through 4 p.m. There will be informational videos and presentations throughout the day. Parking is free at the visitors’ center.

Trips across Roosevelt Dam, which is now closed to the public, will also begin at 9 a.m. Complimentary shuttle buses provided by SRP will take people to the crest of the dam on a first-come, first-served basis. The last shuttle to the dam will depart from the visitors’ center at 3:30 p.m.

Visitors will be allowed to walk across the dam and can also listen to presentations by Paul Hursh, an engineer in SRP’s Hydro Generation group, who will talk about Roosevelt Dam’s modification in the 1990s.  When construction was completed in 1996, the dam was raised 77 feet to provide for additional flood control and water-conservation storage space.

Saturday’s public event is part of a two-day celebration of the Roosevelt Dam centennial.

On Friday, March 18 (today), the day before the public event and the 100th anniversary of the dam’s dedication event in 1911, invitation-only events will be held at the crest of Roosevelt Dam and at the SRP PERA Club in Tempe.

Gov. Jan Brewer, Kira Finkler, the Bureau of Reclamation’s deputy commissioner of external and intergovernmental affairs, SRP President David Rousseau, SRP Vice President John Hoopes and John Sullivan, associate general manager of SRP’s Water group, will be among those addressing a crowd of about 200 at the dam. A time capsule that was placed at the dam at its Golden Jubilee celebration in 1961 will also be opened.

In Tempe, SRP General Manager Dick Silverman, Congressmen David Schweikert, Ben Quayle and Paul Gosar, along with Bruce Ellis, the Bureau of Reclamation’s acting deputy area manager, will address guests prior to viewing the centennial event from the dam via live satellite feed. Also on the agenda is the creation of a new time capsule marking the centennial.

Theodore Roosevelt Dam, the cornerstone of SRP’s water-management system, was completed one year before Arizona’s statehood and today is considered the nation’s most successful multipurpose reclamation project.

Arizona was a desert territory plagued by periods of drought and monsoon flooding until President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Reclamation Act of 1902, which supplied the funding mechanism for the dam and other similar projects. Territorial farmers then pledged their land to obtain a federal loan to build Roosevelt Dam, an innovative feat of engineering at the time and the world’s largest masonry dam. When the dam was completed in 1911, former President Theodore Roosevelt himself rode up the Apache Trail in a buggy to dedicate the accomplishment.

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