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Public Works Administration Photographs of the Bonneville Dam Project


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

United States

The United States Public Works Administration (PWA) was a New Deal government agency authorized by the National Industrial Recovery Act (1933) in response to the Great Depression. Initially referred to as the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works and headed by Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes, the agency was designed to build large-scale public works, such as dams, bridges, hospitals, and schools, often through contracts with private construction firms. The goal of these efforts was to supply employment, stabilize buying power, and help revive the economy. After the Reorganization Act of 1939, the PWA was put under the newly-created Federal Works Agency and its functions shifted toward war preparations until it was eventually shut down in 1944.

Consists of a collection of seventy-six photographs documenting the construction and installation of power-generating machinery for the Bonneville Dam project in the Columbia River Gorge near Portland, Oregon, beginning in the Great Depression and continuing through World War II. These photographs, which were taken by an unknown United States Public Works Administration photographer, document work completed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, as well as private contractors. Images show the movement of railroad lines for the Bonneville Power & Navigation Projects, new foundations on the Washington side for a relocated railroad station, road grading, construction of the Administration Building for the project, laying of new utility lines, construction at Tooth Rock Tunnel near the Cascade Locks, and a steel bridge across Eagle Creek. Photographs also show the Tainter gate for the Bonneville Ship Lock fabricated by McClintic-Marshall, as well as several images of the control panels installed in the Bonneville Dam power house. Two aerial photographs show the spillway, the powerhouse, and locks, and the Navigation Locks being finished on the Oregon side. Several of the photographs show the turbine shaft, interiors of the ship locks drying out, power transformers built by Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing, the water-wheel generators by General Electric, and other equipment being installed in the power station at Bonneville. There are also images depicting instrument panels with covers removed showing wiring and circuitry below, the assembly stages of generators, cooling equipment, pieces returned for repair by the manufacturer, and coil housings. Other private companies whose work is documented in the images include Westinghouse Electric Corporation and Pawling and Harnischfeger.

Purchased from Zephyr Used & Rare Books in 2021 (AM 2022-073).

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This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in December 2021. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in December 2021, incorporating some dealer description.

No materials were removed from the collection during 2021 processing.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Author
Kelly Bolding
Finding Aid Date
Processing of this collection was sponsored by the Delafield fund.
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

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Collection Inventory

Public Works Administration Photographs of the Bonneville Dam Project, 1934-1943. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

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