Coolidge Dam

  • Vicinity: SW of San Carlos
  • Travel Genus: Sight
  • Sight Category: Structure

The Coolidge Dam is a significant structure because it is the first large scale multiple-dome dam ever built and may possibly be the first successful multiple-dome dam of any size ever built. In addition, the Coolidge Dam construction process developed new and unique methodologies and technologies in concrete forming and pouring. Therefore, the Coolidge Dam is a significant structure on two levels: design and construction technology.

The key element of design in the Coolidge Dam is the use of the large egg-shaped domes to form the dam walls and the fact that these massive concrete structures were built with no expansion/contraction joints. The domes are both vertical and horizontal arches which are heavily reinforced with steel to (1) prevent temperature shrinkage cracks (2) anchor the concrete to the foundations and (3) transfer shear forces to the buttresses as the domes approach the crest. The use of reinforcing steel in the domes allowed them to be built as one piece with no joints at all. Moreover, the overall aesthetic appearance of the structure was taken into account. The exterior of the entire dam, including all the concrete surfaces of domes, buttresses, roadway and railings, were finished to a high degree with the application of a special surface compound. This created a smooth finish all over the structure. The architectural features of the dam are also unusual, in that the expenses entailed in building elaborate railings for the roadway, the cornice, the overhangs (complete with eagles), and other ornamental architectural details could have been avoided. However, since the dam was being built as somewhat of a showpiece, these expensive details were added. - NRHP, 14 August 1980

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Coolidge Dam


Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
1926/12/00 Atkinson, Kier Brothers and Spice Company Contractor Atkinson, Kier Brothers and Spice Company is awarded a federal contract to construct the Coolidge Dam
1926/12/00 US Bureau of Indian Affairs Developer Atkinson, Kier Brothers and Spice Company is awarded a federal contract to construct the Coolidge Dam
1929/00/00 Major C R Olberg Engineer Coolidge Dam completed mid 1929
1930/03/04 Calvin Coolidge Dignitary Calvin Coolidge dedicates the Coolidge Dam with a bottle of water

Data »

Particulars for Coolidge Dam:
Area of Significance Agriculture
Area of Significance Architecture
Criteria Architecture-Engineering
Area of Significance Community Planning and Development
Area of Significance Engineering
Owner Federal
Criteria Historic Event
Other Description Multiple Dome Dam
Level of Significance National
Historic Use Public works
Sight Category Structure
Historic Use Water Works

US National Registry of Historic Places Data »

Accurate at time of registration: 29th October 1981

Registry Name: Coolidge Dam
Registry Address: SW of San Carlos
Registry Number: 81000135
Resource Type: Structure
Owner: Federal
Architect: Olberg,Major C.R.; Atkinson,Kier Bros. and Spice Co.
Architectural Style: Other
Attribute: Multiple Dome Dam
Area in Acres: 21
Contributing Structures: 1
Certification: Listed in the National Register
Level of Significance: National
Area of Significance: Community Planning and Development, Engineering, Architecture, Agriculture
Applicable Criteria: Event, Architecture-Engineering
Period of Significance: 1925-1949
Significant Year: 1927, 1929
Historic Function: Industry, processing, extraction, Government
Historic Sub-Function: Water works, Public works
Current Function: Industry, processing, extraction, Government
Current Sub-Function: Water works Public works

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