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Program at Western to revisit ‘The Race to Save Fontenelle Dam’ on Tuesday, Sept. 22

September 14, 2015

Citizens watch as re
Citizens watch as repair work progresses on Fontenelle Dam in 1965. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.)

ROCK SPRINGS – Western Wyoming Community College and the History Program join the Sweetwater County Historical Society on Tuesday, Sept. 22 in presenting a look back at a major event in the history of water reclamation in Southwest Wyoming: “The Race to Save Fontenelle Dam.” Historian Mark E. Baker will deliver the 7 p.m. presentation, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the event, in Room 1302 at the Rock Springs campus. This program is free and open to the public.

Fontenelle was authorized by the federal government for purposes of water storage and to provide a power supply for the Seedskadee Project. But in 1965, shortly after the dam was completed, it developed a leak that quickly expanded to become an 80-foot-wide, 50-foot-deep and 170-foot-long hole that almost caused the dam to fail. The downstream town of Green River stood to bear the brunt of any flood that might have occurred as a result.

Community members lent their backs and equipment to Reclamation in a joint effort to prevent the dam’s failure. Their success in saving Fontenelle demonstrated the grit and determination of Southwest Wyoming’s citizens and provided important lessons in safety for the dam industry.

Western is proud to join with the Sweetwater County Historical Society in presenting this look back at a watershed moment in the history of Wyoming water reclamation. For more information, contact Assistant Professor of History and Political Science Jessica Clark, Ph.D., at or at (307) 382-1864.       


For more information, contact Audrey Harton at (307) 382-1661 or
(307) 382-1600 or toll free (800) 226-1181