Buffalo Bill Dam was the highest dam in the world when it was constructed in the early 1900s. At 325 feet is was also the highest concrete structure at that time. Working conditions were harsh and construction took five years to complete bankrupting several construction companies along the way. The reason this small dam is of any concern is I was five years old at the time and lived thirty miles away in Powell, WY. My dad was the band director at the local high school, and in the early 1950s, this site was a tourist attraction and my dad sold postcards of Yellowstone Park in the parking lot on weekends along with a group of other teachers. I remember visiting this dam when I was five, and it was the most frightening thing I had ever seen. You could lean over and touch the water on one side of the dam and look over the other to the valley floor.
Since those days, they added twenty five feet to the top of the dam, built a tourist shop and museum, and drilled a tunnel through the mountain for a modern highway. We used to drive to the dam on the narrow road up the side of the canyon that had no guard rails. The road was barely wide enough for two cars so we drove very close to the edge.
The high dam and the scary road left a mark on me, so I had to return.
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Early photo of the dam.
This is the road we used to use to get to the dam. No guard rails
Back side of the dam.
This is the parking lot where my dad used to sell postcards during the summer to tourists.
Old road as it is today – no guard rail. Fence was installed in the last few years for hikers.
25 feet added to the top in 1995.