It’s been 60 years since President Kennedy turned on the power At Flaming Gorge Dam

President John F. Kennedy speaks in Salt Lake City prior to activating power production at Flaming Gorge Dam on Sept. 27, 1963. COURTESY PHOTO/Sweetwater County Historical Museum

ROCK SPRINGS— The Sweetwater County Courthouse has a new museum display the depicts the start of the Flaming Gorge Dam.

President John F. Kennedy pressed a button 60 years ago that opened the penstocks at Flaming Gorge Dam and started a system that has produced hydroelectric power for six decades.

“The important thing to remember is for 50 years men have been talking about this project,” Kennedy said. “It is now a reality. What are we going to do now so that 50 years from now the people who live in Utah and the United States will feel that in the early ’60s we made the proper decision for the management of our resources?”

Dave Mead, executive director of the Sweetwater County Historical Museum, said when people view a new exhibit on Flaming Gorge, he hopes they ponder the same question.

“Was it worth it?” Mead asked. “We lost a beautiful, wild river but we gained a pretty lake and a big tourism boost for the local economy. Water is the key. Kennedy said that, and it’s profound. One of my goals for this exhibit is to get people to think about this question.”

A presidential connection with Flaming Gorge goes back to 1956, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower made a telephone call to a man overlooking the dam site.

On the Eisenhower’s command the man fired a rifle that signaled workers at the dam site to set off the first explosion that began construction on the dam. A photo of President Eisenhower, smiling with his Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton, as they triggered the explosion are part of the exhibit.

Information provided by Cowboy State Daily

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