Saturday, May 01, 2010


Photo: Arts & Architecture

I’ve seen all the wild rivers I ever want to see.

Floyd E. Dominy in 1966. Dominy, who served as the commissioner of the federal Bureau of Reclamation from 1959 to 1969, passed away on April 20 at the age of 100.

According to the New York Times, Dominy was responsible for the “Glen Canyon, Flaming Gorge and Navajo Dams in the upper Colorado River basin, and the Trinity River part of California’s Central Valley Project, among many others.”

I don’t think I would have gotten along with Dominy (may he RIP), even though there's every reason to believe that he did what he did out of a humanitarian impulse to help the farmer and rancher of the American West.

Unfortunately, he overdid it.

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard is more my style. He recently did a spot for American Express in which he talked about his dam busting.

Video: Yvon Chouinard and the American Express Members Project Commercial

The July / August 1967 (and final) issue of Arts & Architecture was dedicated to the architecture of North American dams. The photograph above was taken from that issue, as was this excerpt:

It could be said that water is one of the most potent forces employed by Nature in shaping the animate and inanimate world, and as a form creator is thus within our province.


It is of importance to note just how far man has progressed in his ability to form and deform his environment. Like water, he is both form giver and destroyer, but until quite recently man was one of Nature’s relatively minor and inefficient tools and weapons.

By his inventiveness and increase in numbers, however, he has become capable of changing the face and fortune of the world beyond the capacity of any other natural force. An indication of his increased capability is the catastrophic affect man has had on water in the U.S. It is estimated, for example, that is he were to disappear tomorrow, it would take a generation for the waters of even our largest rivers and lakes (e.g. the Hudson River, Lake Erie) to regenerate and become fresh again.

Water Resources in North America, Arts & Architecture, July / August 1967

Update: NPR reported on Dominy on May 4th »

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