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Keokuk and the Great Dam

Keokuk and the Great Dam


John E. Hallwas



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Arcadia Publishing

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200 Black and White


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Book Description:

This remarkable pictorial history tells the story of an engineering marvel: the first dam built across the Mississippi River (from 1910–1913), and the historic Midwestern community that fostered the world-famous hydroelectric project. Keokuk and the Great Dam is the story of a colorful and historic river town with a dream of economic development and cultural progress; a self-taught engineer who took on a challenge that no one else wanted to attempt; and a massive construction effort that pitted men and machines against the awesome power of America’s greatest river. Completed shortly before WWI, the Keokuk dam (now known as Lock and Dam No. 19) was the culmination of a long struggle to employ the Mississippi River for hydroelectric power and to improve navigation on the great waterway. In frontier days the Des Moines Rapids, stretching north from Keokuk, prevented loaded steamboats from moving upriver. They also created a business opportunity for local residents. A rapidly growing town by the 1850s, Keokuk went into decline for many years when it failed to secure adequate railroad connections. But the coming of hydroelectric power fostered a new dream, and local leaders set out to harness the great river. What followed was a dramatic effort that drew international attention, produced the world’s second largest dam (at the time), and forever changed both the community and the fabled American waterway.

Author Bio: Noted regional historian John E. Hallwas employs a spectacular array of historic photographs from the Keokuk Public Library, the Lee County Historical Society, and
the U.S. Corps of Engineers, to chronicle an astounding achievement and a distinctive Midwestern community. Please join us for this fascinating trip down the rapids of the Mississippi.

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