Banks Lake, 1951

Banks Lake was filled after the creation of Grand Coulee Dam and was always part of the over all master irrigation plan. Flood the upper coulee with water creating a 27 mile lake that at places could be as wide as five miles. The dam would pump the water out at the feet of Electric City where it would flow past Steamboat Rock, flooding several lakes on it’s way to Coulee City where it would be stopped by a huge earthen dam. Before they could flood the coulee a lot of preparation work had to be done. There was an orchard that had to be razed, a railroad to pick up, a couple farms and one townsite with 30 people in the coulee that would soon be filled. The people had to move, a lake was coming, a huge reservoir to bring irrigation to dry farm lands all over the Columbia Basin. The year was 1951 and America was in the grip of a cold war, but out in Coulee City it was hardly felt except in news of far away places like Hollywood or New York. Instead the people watched the coulee and dam as the water inched its way down closer to the earthen dam. There was an anxiety that the dam might not hold, and the water would flood through Dry Falls and down into the lower coulee. This of course never happened. Instead people watched as their landscape was forever changed and a 27 mile lake showed up at their door steps. Somewhere during all this, along the new highway built to replace the flooded Speedball Highway, someone managed to chisel their name into blasted granite. Who and why are unknown, but the year they did it was a year of change for the surrounding area, the year Banks Lake was finally formed. 1951.

Banks Lake being filled in 1951

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