UMATILLA, Ore. – Don’t miss your chance to get an inside look at McNary Lock and Dam during an open house event set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park rangers and operations staff at the dam invite the public to join them for a variety of tours, educational programs and activities. Guided tours include an up-close look at a hydroelectric generator inside the powerhouse, the navigation lock and the Washington shore fish viewing room.
A park ranger patrol boat, a juvenile salmon transport trailer and several pieces of equipment used for care and maintenance of the dam will be available for public viewing.
The Pacific Salmon Visitor Information Center will also be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Power house tours will allow visitors to see the replacement of the copper wiring of the stators on generator units 3 and 8. These coils of copper wire, called “windings,” are important because they are essential components of the generator which helps produce electricity.
Until now, only four of the dam’s 14 generators have failed since the first generator went on line in 1953. The final generator went on line in 1957. Only two other generators have needed replacement of copper wiring. After more than 50 years of service, the copper wiring on 10 generator units is being replaced -- two generators each year during a five-year period. The winding replacement project started in 2010.
“This is a great chance to see inside the dam and find out more about what it takes to keep a huge dam like McNary running and providing so many benefits to the region,” said David McDermott, natural resources manager at McNary. “Being able to observe the copper winding replacement work – a major generator maintenance activity – is an extremely rare opportunity.”
Visitors can choose what they want to see and do during the open house. Those wishing to see the Washington shore fish viewing room and the navigation lock should check in with park rangers at the north entrance of the dam on the Washington side. Visitors who want to participate in a powerhouse tour, should check in at the powerhouse gate on the Oregon shore. Visitors should be sure to wear closed-toe, sturdy shoes while touring work areas of the dam.
Parking is available at both check-in areas. Visitors 18 years and older will need photo identification to enter the dam. Visitors will not be allowed to bring in purses, bags, cameras, cell phones, briefcases and similar items into secure areas of the dam. These items cannot be checked in with the security guards and should be left in visitors’ vehicles. Visitor center access at the dams is subject to change without notice.
For more information about this event or other recreation opportunities at McNary Dam, call 541-922-2268.