Coolidge, the Art Deco Dam

Deep in the Apache Nation–120 miles east of Phoenix as the asphalt was poured–is the Coolidge Dam.  Built in the roaring years of 20s and dedicated just months after the stock market crash on March 4, 1930 by Calvin Coolidge.

The project had a budget to make a fashion statement in the art deco style of the day. Note the lamps and the tiles in the bulkhead.  And, oh my, the eagle.  The eagle appears to be concrete and therefore molded.  Setting it into place must have been a sight to see.

The lake was the color of my college prom date’s eyes.

Red-tailed Hawk owns the sky

Sixty-five miles NE of the Coolidge Dam is the Roosevelt Dam in the midst of the Tonto Forest.  I am camped overlooking the Lake which lounges as far as I can see left and right.  The lake and I are embraced by tall mountains of faded red earth spotted with forest greens.  My spot has a barbecue and a covered picnic table.  The nightly fee for my private piece of the universe is three dollars after my clergyman’s discount.

17 Responses to Coolidge, the Art Deco Dam

  1. Angel and I had to bypass the Dam a few months after 9/11 as RV’s were not allowed over. I had told her how beautiful it was going over it the times I did before that. I will take my wife over it someday I hope. It sure brings back memories seeing these shots. I camped above the Dam for free back in 96 there was just a place to park and I did over night. The cats were scared by dogs howling at night, coyotes probably.

  2. Lisa says:

    pictures look great!Enjoy Roosevelt!

  3. The eagle adds an extra special touch. How clean it all looks.

  4. ‘Tis lovely. The pictures make me feel as if I’m there. I feel peaceful just looking at the scene. Who else but an eagle to keep watch?

  5. Tony Bacon says:

    Al, Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos with us. You are a great photographer. It is like your friends enjoying this trip with you.

  6. Very interesting! I think it’s a little earlier than Art Deco but still great to look at. I love getting “horizons” in the mail, on days when I’m stuck at an arm’s-length computer screen. Keep the pictures coming!

  7. Joe Jones says:

    Fantastic pictures Al, Get this fishing rod out and make use of that barbecue near you.

  8. Kristine says:

    I have really been enjoying your travels vicariously, Al, and I love your writing. However, this particular entry hit a nerve with me.
    While I agree that it is a beautiful art deco dam, the consequences of its building have been disastrous for the “downsteam” Native American tribes. In 1930 when this damn was built, Coolidge smoked a peace pipe with the Pima Indians, whose water had been diverted. The politicans had linen table clothes with crystal and silverware while the Pima’s ate bagged lunches on makeshift tables. The Pimas were forced to abandon their traditional farming practices and make do with commodity products, including lard, flour and sugar from which they made fry bread. They now have the highest rate of diabetes in the nation, and little of the water that they were promised. But of course, Arizonians enjoy golf courses and swimming pools – in the desert! How unnatural!

  9. kaiology says:

    Wow, as beautiful a set of pictures of Coolidge Dam that I have seen yet, thank you very much for posting! I’ll post a link to it on my own Coolidge (the man) blog.

  10. Pingback: Coolidge Dam | Kai's Coolidge Blog

    • allevenson says:

      Those interested in a brief taste of the history of the Coolidge Dam, will find Kai’s blog worth a few minutes.

      • kaiology says:

        Thanks for the heads up! I see you did find my blog… I hadn’t given the URL as I thought it’s bad form to tout your own blog 😉
        I’ll be back checking out your posts and enjoy traveling the U.S. vicariously.

  11. Jim Cooke says:

    Great photos! Thank you — I’ve twice visited the City of Coolidge to perform my solo Calvin Coolidge: More Than Two Words. The last time I got over to see the Coolidge Dam. It was worth the trip and the trouble.
    I’ve seen newsreel out takes of the dedication with Will Rogers’ speech and Coolidge’s dedication. Later, in his syndicated column, Rogers wrote: “Cal did a damn fine job of dam dedicating.”
    In Northampton, Massachusetts at the Forbes Library you can see the ceremonial pipes Coolidge smoked in this and other ceremonies with his Indian brothers. The pipes are assembled; and: They shouldn’t be. (Bowl and stem should be joined only when smoking.) On one pipe there is a turquoise inlay of a leaf of the plant cannabis sativa — which brings up the question: “Did Coolidge inhale?” I believe he did. In his column, Rogers wrote, “He coughed about a car-load.”

  12. A belated but enthusiastic enjoyment of the photos! Look forward to making it out there in person. Thanks for sharing!

    • allevenson says:

      The day after I posted the pix of the Coolidge Dam, I had a note from an English group that were admirers of Coolidge. My blog had dozens of extra hits from members of that group. AL

  13. James Cooke says:

    My subsequent reading and research reveals that the pipe former President Coolidge smoked – the bowl was found at the not too distant Casa Grande Ruins. However, the pipe was stolen after the ceremony so it is not among the pipes on exhibit in NoHo. (Northampton, Massachusetts) A $25 reward was immediately announced for its recovery but I don’t believe it was ever found.

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