Three Gorges Dam--August 29, 2004--Three Gorges Dam, Victoria Queen Cruise Ship
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At mid-day today, we headed out of Shanghai to the airport and along the way saw a street banner for The Phantom of the Opera (1), a show that seems to be in all the major cities of the world. We passed by the Shanghai Exhibition Center (2), a gift from Stalin during the period of friendly Soviet-China relations and the Shanghai Museum (3) which we visited two days earlier.
We flew the 600 mile flight from Shanghai to Yichang, a city of about 4 million. From there, we boarded a bus and proceeded to the Three Gorges Dam for a tour. As we made the drive, the countryside became considerably more mountainous (5-7) when we neared at the dam-site. The dam is a spectacular site (8-48); some of its particulars are:
Three Gorges Dam is the world's largest hydroelectric dam
Construction will be over a 15 year period from 1994-2009
Length on top is 1.45 miles (five times as long as the Hoover Dam)
Height is 607 feet (about the height of a 60 story building)
Number of generators planned is 26 (10 are currently operational)
Power generated will be 84.7 billion kilowatts of energy/year (comparable to eighteen nuclear plants and about 1/10 of China's current needs)
Reservoir levels behind the dam will rise to 574 feet (175 meters), 290 feet higher than the previous level in the gorges.
The reservoir behind the dam will be about the size of Lake Superior and the largest man-made lake in the world.
10,000 ton ships will be able to use the five-stage locks to sail upriver to Chongqing.
13 cities, 140 towns, 1,350 villages, 657 factories and 74,000 acres of cultivated land will be submerged under the increased water level.
1.2 million persons will be moved to new locales.
The dam is designed to control flooding on the Yangtze. Over the last century, 300,000 persons have been killed due to flooding in the area.
The dam has an attractive visitor's area (34-41) from which one can climb to a lookout point and see the entire complex. The visitor's area also has a huge book sculpture detailing specifics of dam construction (34-35).
The dam is not without controversy since environmentalists have a number of concerns and engineers debate whether silt deposits will eventually impact its effectiveness. The early construction also experienced numerous concrete cracks but guides now say that problem has been corrected.
After touring the dam site, we again boarded a bus and traveled to Maoping (51-53), a town of about 30,000, composed primarily of persons re-located from other areas, flooded by the rising water levels from the dam. Maoping serves as a temporary port during dam construction. In Maoping, we took a cable car down to water level to board our Yangtze cruise ship, the Victoria Queen. Since it was dinner time, we went to our cabins and immediately to dinner, after which, the crew put on its nightly show (55-58).
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