Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Utah State University Faculty Honor Lectures


The Faculty Association, Utah State University

Publication Date



ONCE last summer we stood. near the snow-white cascade flowing over the world's largest concrete dam, Grand Coulee, which is twice as high as Niagara Falls. We were alone in the gallery with the shafts that link the turbines to the dynamos. The nearest shaft appeared to be a pillar strong enough to bear half the burdens of humanity. It seemed to stand still and serene. Examined more closely, it revealed itself as spinning with perfect smoothness. For all we could see, we were alone in the eleven miles of passages inside the dam and powerhouse, alone with a cosmic hum and the whirling of eighteen shafts, each capable of conveying 160,000 horsepower. Those shafts, a classic colonnade of might spinning in a wide spotless emptiness, could have been regarded as symbols of a machine civilization which had rendered man obsolete. But this would have been a weak and mistaken view. There were technicians watching control panels night and day to keep the enormous mechanism running harmoniously, supplying rivers of electricity to factories and stores, farms and homes over a wide area. The shafts were pillars sustaining a huge and intricate economy. They were instruments of man's will under perfect human control.


This work made publicly available electronically on August 5, 2011.