Little Bits of History

Egypt be Dammed

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 9, 2014
Aswan Dam

Aswan Dam

January 9, 1960: Construction on the Aswan Dam begins. This is an embankment dam built across the Nile River in Aswan, Egypt. This refers to the High Dam as opposed to the Aswan Low Dam, which also exists. The creation of this structure was one of the main objectives of the Egyptian Government after the conclusion of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. The dam provides water control as well as generating hydroelectric power. Both were seen as necessary for the industrialization of Egypt. Since the Nile floods yearly but with varying degrees of intensity, the control of the water was helpful in decreasing both drought and flood conditions.

The Aswan Low Dam was built from 1898-1902 and was the first dam to cross the Nile. President Gamal Abdel Nasser began the planning stage of building a newer and better dam in 1955. Both the US and Britain offered to help finance the building of the dam in return for Nasser’s leadership in helping resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Nasser did not accept US conditions and turned to the Soviet Union for help. The USSR promised Egypt arms in exchange for a deferred payment of Egyptian grain and cotton. The US, rather than retaliate for turning to the Communists for help, pledged to better relations with Egypt and guaranteed a total of $70 million to help build the dam.

On this day, President Nasser detonated ten tons of dynamite which demolished twenty tons of granite on the east bank of the Nile, officially beginning the construction of the dam. The Soviet Hydrproject Institute designed the dam with the help of some Egyptian engineers. There were 25,000 Egyptian engineers and workers who actually built the dam. The first stage was completed in 1964 and the dam was officially finished on July 21, 1970. The reservoir reached capacity in 1976. There have been plans to improve and extend the dam.

The Aswan Dam is 12,570 feet long and 3,220 feet wide at the base. The width at the crest is 130 feet. It is 364 feet tall. The dam itself contains 56,000,000 cubic yards of material. Maximum capacity for water flow is 390,000 cubic feet/second. There are further spillways which allow for an extra 180,000 cubic feet/second in emergencies. The spillway waters travel via the Toshka Canal to the Toshka Depression. The reservoir is named Lake Nasser and is 340 miles long and 22 miles at its widest point. The surface area is 2,030 square miles and it holds 173,000,000,000 cubic yards of water.

What was taken by force, can only be restored by force.

I have been a conspirator for so long that I mistrust all around me.

They defended the grains of sand in the desert to the last drop of their blood.

Events are not a matter of chance. – all from Gamal Abdel Nasser

Also on this day: Advertising – In 1984, Clara Peller makes her television debut.
Going to the Dogs – In 1929, The Seeing Eye was established.
Northern Aggression? – In 1861, Star of the West, is fired upon by Southerners.
Giant – In 1881, Edouard Beaupré was born.

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