Largest Dams In North America



A dam is a barrier that is built to stop or restrict the flow of water or underground streams.

The reservoirs created by such barriers not only suppress floods but also provide water for activities such as irrigation, human consumption, industrial use, aquaculture, and navigability.

In this article, we will discuss five of the largest Dams in North America.

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Fort Peck Dam on the Missouri River. (Wikipedia)
  1. The first on the list is Fort Peck Dam. Completed in 1943, The Fort Peck Dam is built along the Missouri River, located in northeast Montana in the United States, near Glasgow, and adjacent to the community of Fort Peck. This Dam has a length of 21,026 feet (6,409 m) and stands at over 250 feet (76 m) in height, it is the largest hydraulically filled dam in North America. The dam presently has a nameplate capacity of 185.25 megawatts, divided among 5 generating units (which in turn are divided between the Western and Eastern grids).

    Oahe powerhouse showing surge chambers and powerhouse, looking to north-west. (Source: Wikipedia)
  2. The Oahe Dam is the second large dam in North America and was completed in 1963. It is also the largest on the Missouri River, just north of Pierre, South Dakota, United States. Its reservoir stretches 231 miles (372 km) up the course of the Missouri to Bismarck, North Dakota. The power plant of the Oahe Dam provides electricity for much of the north-central United States.

    Aerial view of Garrison Dam, impounding Lake Sakakawea on the Missouri River (Source: Wikipedia)
  3. The Gardiner Dam located on the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatchewan, Canada is the third largest dam in North America and one of the largest dams in the world. Construction on Gardiner Dam was started in 1959 and completed in 1967. The dam stands at 64 meters (209 feet) in height, 5 km (3.1 mi) long and has a width of 1.5 km (0.93 mi) at its base. Dam Gardiner has the volume of 65,000,000 cubic meters.

    Oroville Dam aerial (Source: Wikipedia)
  4. The fourth largest Dam is the Oroville Dam, an earth fill embankment dam located on the Feather River east of the city of Oroville, California, in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of the Sacramento Valley. It stands at a height of 770 feet (235 m), making it the tallest dam in the U.S. The Oroville Dam serves mainly for water supply, hydroelectricity generation and flood control. It is capable of storing more than 3.5 million acre feet (1.1 trillion US gallons; 4.3 trillion liters).

    View of San Luis Dam and the intake structure (Source: Wikipedia)
  5. The Fifth is San Luis Dam which is also known as B.F. Sisk Dam, named after Bernie Sisk. The San Luis Dam is also the largest off-stream reservoir in the United States. It is located in the Diablo Range to the east of Pacheco Pass and about 10 miles (16 km) west of Los Banos. San Luis Dam, is capable of storing more than 2 million acre feet (2.5 km3) of water for the California State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.
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