- "This could huge! All three of the dam's powerhouses still work and might be able to provide power to thousands of people! Who knows, maybe it might help our cause?"
- ―General Homer Jay upon hearing about the Grand Coulee Dam
|Grand Coulee Dam|
|Factions:||Oregon tribals, Free Northwestern Army|
|Notable events:||Oregon Brushfire Wars|
|Current status:||Contested between tribals and FNA|
The Grand Coulee Dam is a pre-War concrete gravity dam on the Columbia River built to produce hydroelectric power and provide irrigation water. It has three still operating powerhouses due to the few remaining ghoulified staff and the tribal descendants of the non-ghoulified staff. Currently, the dam is being contested between the local tribals and the FNA.
Grand Coulee Dam was first conceived of in 1917 by a lawyer named William M. Clapp, who made the proposal to dam up the Columbia River to irrigate the ancient Grand Coulee river bed. Constructed between 1933 and 1942, Grand Coulee Dam originally had only two powerhouses. During WWII, the dam provided power for the Hartford Site, a part of the secret Manhattan Project. A third was added in 1974 to increase energy production, makes Grand Coulee the largest power station in the United States at the time. The centerpiece of the Columbia Basin Project, the dam's reservoir supplied water for the irrigation of 671,000 acres. The reservoir created by the dam was called Franklin Delano Roosevelt Lake, named after the United States President who presided over the authorization and completion of the dam. The reservoir caused the relocation of over 3,000 people, including Native Americans whose ancestral lands were partially flooded.
The Grand Coulee Dam continued operating far into the twenty-first century, providing energy to a wide area. The dam briefly heightened security after the incidents at Hoover Dam and Niagra, but that increase in security was leveled off after a while.
The Great War did not immediately come to Grand Coulee Dam but eventually did. The nuclear bomb that was supposed to hit Grand Coulee Dam was instead diverted to Spokane. The workers inside the dam survived the initial blasts, and soon enough people were leaving to find their families. Some of the dam's staff remained though, determined to hold out and keep the great structure stable. An unassuming janitor, Ben Maxwell, rose up to lead the remaining workers to keep going.
Around a week after the initial nuclear explosions, the black rain began to fall. With that, some of the workers who had left Grand Coulee Dam returned though they were changed. Their skin was peeling and their hair was falling out. This scared many of the workers who had stayed at the dam, but Ben managed to hold things together, admitting the irradiated workers back into the dam. Now all together, the workers settled down to wait out the apocalypse.
It would not be that simple though. The environment remained irradiated and extremely hostile for the first couple of years after the Great War. Food and clean water was religiously rationed at Grand Coulee Dam. In the south, roving bands of marauders ravaged the nearby cities of Grand Coulee and Electric City. They occasionally attacked the dam but were always unable to take it, being too defensible. In the north, the situation in Colville Reservation was only mildly better. The Indians there were holding together but were beginning to starve by mid-2078.
The Indians began to cause trouble when they started coming south, becoming refugees to escape the dying Colville Reservation. The refugees did not have to cross the dam to go south but some did and were met with cautious hostility. This fueled the Indians' hatred of the dam workers and that played right into the hands of the marauders, an early raider gang led by a self-styled warlord named Murphy. Murphy recruited many of the Indian refugees into his gang, hoping to build up an army to take Grand Coulee Dam as his personal stronghold. Murphy made an encampment at Steamboat Rock State Park and waited.
Ben Maxwell heard of Murphy's efforts from drifters, and the people of the dam prepared for war. They gathered weapons, ammunition, and bicycles while continuing their isolation.
In 2081, Murphy's marauders finally attacked Grand Coulee Dam on both sides. There was no time for a siege though, as a large number of Murphy's soldiers had radiation sickness, and he had to move fast. So attacks came day after day, grinding down the dam's defenders. Hope seemed lost.
That was until a certain drifter came through known only as Rex came through the area heading west looking for someone. Rex was just minding his own business before he was ambushed by Murphy's soldiers and escaped towards Grand Coulee Dam. The dam's residents fired at Rex initially but stopped after he made it to their walls, asking for admittance. After seeing Murphy's soldiers pursuing him, the defenders decided to let Rex in. Someone instantly accused Rex of being a spy. He was then stripped of his weapons and taken to Ben Maxwell for questioning. Ben Maxwell wanted to know the conditions of Murphy's encampment at first but after learning of Rex's specific set of skills, the dam's leader had another goal in mind. He wanted Rex to assassinate Murphy to try to disperse the attacking army. Ben Maxwell promised Rex all the food and water he could carry for the job. Rex tentatively accepted.
Rex was later talked through the motions by the dam's ghoul "armorer" Joey, who gave Rex a C-4 charge and a detonator. After that, Rex was let loose out of the Grand Coulee Dam to take out Murphy that night.
The assassination attempt failed due to unforeseen circumstances, and Rex only just managed to escape. Enraged, Murphy mounted one final attack on Grand Coulee Dam on both sides with the bulk of his army. The defenders put up a valiant defense, but they were ultimately overwhelmed. Murphy personally executed Ben Maxwell by firing his flare gun into Maxwell's mouth at point-blank range. Murphy's army was celebrating their victory when Rex emerged from the dust and suddenly gunned down Murphy for some inexplicable reason. No one ever really knew why Rex did it, but they did know that he ran very fast from the resultant angry horde on his heels. Rex just managed to escape for a second time, leaving the two groups at Grand Coulee Adam leaderless and exhausted.
Before long, the two sides finally put aside their animosity and tried to survive, now with the ghoul Joey as their leader. The dam was not damaged during the short war so things went on rather normally for a while. However, although Joey was a good man at heart, he was not a strong leader like Murphy or Ben Maxwell, and his authority began to get called into question by the 2090s. The quality of life at the dam declined accordingly. In 2091, Joey was pulled into a piece of machinery and disappeared, leaving no clear successor.
From that point onward, the human residents of Grand Coulee Dam began to slide into tribalism. The lack of education and strong leadership let the technology of the human residents of the dam slip to hunter-gatherer levels by the mid-2100s. The seven ghouls left in the dam became either apathetic to the human's presence or became deeply nihilistic towards the whole situation. Some of them just spent their time maintaining the dam's machinery while others messed with the dam's increasingly primitive human population. Occasionally though, one of the ghouls takes a young tribal under their wing to teach them about machinery and other wondrous magic. Many of these apprentices often left to go to west after a certain age, not comfortable with their tribal home. The other tribals of Grand Coulee Dam came to respect the ghouls as "elders" and followed some basic rules set out by them, like no cannibalism, no murder, no rape, and no vegetarianism. These qualities set the dam tribals apart from their other tribal neighbors, something visitors and drivers would often comment upon.
In 2220, a caravan from Chinatown in Seattle came upon Grand Coulee Dam and was very impressed by it. They were even more impressed when the found the dam's power station intact, carefully maintained by its ghoul residents. The caravaners wondered if it would possible to link the dam's power station to anything leading to Seattle, but it was a futile effort. Numerous groups from Seattle would send expeditions in the 2200s to see if they could use Grand Coulee Dam's power station, but none could ever find a way to do it. The idea was abandoned and forgotten. The only people to come to the Dam in those intermediary years were raiders who came to kill and burn.
As the years dragged on, more ghouls died, and the tribals of the dam further slipped into savagery. By the time Grand Coulee Dam was "rediscovered" in 2284, only three sane ghouls were left.
In 2284, Mary Grace and Braylon, the infamous raider couple who had looted and robbed their way across post-War America, came across Grand Coulee Dam and tried to terrorize the local tribals. The ghouls saw this, felt a tinge of empathy towards the primitives and defended them from the raiders. This killed two of the ghouls and injured the third, but Mary Grace and Braylon were forced to retreat south from the dam, fearing for their lives.
The last surviving ghoul, a mechanic named Bill, has had difficulties trying to maintain Grand Coulee Dam all by himself and has begun to feel lonely among the ignorant tribals. Bill has considered leaving the dam quite frequently in the last couple of years but cannot bring himself to leave his "life's work".
When Mary Grace and Braylon made their way to Medford and were captured, they were taken to Grant's Pass to be interrogated by the Free Northwestern Army's NCR advisers to learn of conditions in eastern Oregon and Washington. The couple mentioned in passing that Grand Coulee Dam was still in operation during their interrogation. Both the FNA and their NCR advisers were very interested in the potential of the dam's hydroelectric power. However, it was too far north and too out of the way to have any of the FNA cells they controlled take it over. That was before Mary Grace and Braylon offered their services in taking over Grand Coulee Dam for the FNA in exchange for a pardon and some supplies. In response to this, the FNA decided to grant the pair's wishes but not before implanting them both with experimental heart bombs and sending the man with the trigger, Keith, to watch over them. Colonel Mahers green-lighted this only after repeated advice from a particularly eager scientist, helped by his personal mistrust of the raider couple.
When Mary Grace and Braylon arrived back at Grand Coulee Dam in late 2286, they came with a small band of devotees and their "trigger man", who now were all obstinately part of the FNA. They approached the dam with a megaphone and declared that the great structure was now the property of the FNA. Only a few of the tribals there could understand English, so Bill had to translate for them. He retorted back at the band of motley soldiers that they no authority over Grand Coulee Dam unless they were U.S. government, the people who had built the dam. Mary Grace did not have the patience for back and forth diplomacy and instead opened fire on the ghoul, injuring him. Her "trigger man" Keith protested this, wanting a diplomatic solution. The FNA backed off for a while after that, with Keith scolding the couple for Mary Grace's rash actions.
The situation since then has amounted to a protracted siege, with Keith holding the former raider couple's leash while hoping to starve the stubborn tribals into surrender, a less violent end to things. There have been several skirmishes between the FNA and the tribals so far but no big battle so far. None of the dam's facilities or machinery have been harmed in the siege yet. The dam remains isolated from caravans and other groups in Cascadia.
Bill is still recovering from his wounds sustained from Mary Grace's attack. He bears no real grudge against the FNA and still wants a peaceful end to things, with the tribals being able to keep their home and lives. Meanwhile, the tribal chief Falling Waters is perfectly willing to fight for his home and kill if necessary.
The culture of the tribal residents of Grand Coulee Dam is unique from the other tribes in the region in that they do not practice cannibalism or raiding and adhere to certain rules laid out by their "elders" aka the remaining ghoul staff at the dam. They are typically seen as a "cleaner" variety of tribals than their neighbors and therefore have a better reputation among travelers. However, their customs have set them apart from the other tribals of their area and have brought isolation. They are not afraid to defend themselves even though they are not warlike.
The ghouls of Grand Coulee Dam, now only numbering one, were a hardworking, industrious people. They worked hard to stay sane in a broken world and were often consumed by their work, trying not to get distracted by the tribal descendants of their co-workers. Some the ghouls, though still consumed by their work, had became somewhat more nihilistic in their outlook, often messing with or pranking the trusting tribals.
Grand Coulee Dam has no formal economy since its residents do not trade. The dam's ghoul residents used to trade pre-War baubles for repair parts, but that trade has dried up as the ghouls died off or gone mad.
Of course, the dam has unrealized potential in its uses for hydroelectricity and irrigation. The FNA seeks to fulfill this potential.
The dam is a standard concrete gravity dam that sits in a prominent position above the Columbia River. Most of the machinery lies inside the dam's main structure while some tertiary machinery is outside, scattered nearby.
Grand Coulee Dam spans the Columbia River in eastern Washington. The dam sits above the ancient Grand Coulee riverbed and feeds into Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, known as Roosevelt Lake by the locals. Caravan routes do not typically do go near the dam, preferring other less inhabited crossings.
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