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To block a river is the most audacious thing a human being can do.And when you block a river, you create a new future. Narrator: Its massive generators would power entire cities, and the water it captured would make the desert bloom.At once a symbol of America's remarkable ability to dominate nature and rejuvenate an entire region of the country, it is also a cautionary tale about arrogance, our relationship to the natural world, and the price of progress.Directed By Stephen Ives Produced by Amanda Pollak Edited by Adam Zucker Story by Rob Rapley Telescript by Stephen Ives Narrated by Michael Murphy Associate Producer Lauren De Filippo Music by Peter Rundquist Director of Photography Andrew Young Assistant Camera Kyle Kelley Researchers Sarah Walsh Emily Harrold Assistant Editor Gina F.A part-time school teacher, failed attorney, and veteran of the Alaskan gold rush, he had finally found his calling at the helm of eastern Washington's first daily newspaper, founded in 1905. Papers were sometimes delivered on horseback and in one stunt, Woods painted a pony of his with zebra stripes for extra publicity. His vision was to create something of what he called north central Washington.
Narrator: For some, the Grand Coulee Dam would be an engine of growth and prosperity, for others it would come to symbolize heartbreak and betrayal.In the end, it was an out-sized statement of American power and prestige, a monument to noble ideals and unintended consequences.Richard White, Historian: There is a way in which people hate the dams and are proud of the dams, ways in which people imagine a Columbia running free, but they could not live without the Columbia's electricity.Of the many public works projects of the New Deal, Grand Coulee Dam loomed largest in America's imagination, promising to fulfill President Franklin Roosevelt's vision for a "planned promised land" where hard-working farm families would finally be free from the drought and dislocation caused by the elements.Although the waters it captured would, in fact, generate seemingly limitless amounts of clean hydropower, and create one of the largest agricultural irrigation projects in the nation, the dam left a complicated and controversial legacy.