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Amistad Dam - First Pouring of Concrete Ceremony (1965)

Darrell Davis

Sound | 1965

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  •  Far up the Rio Grande, special ceremonies were held this past weekend at Amistad Dam. 
  •  In the planning stages since 1941 and being built near Del Rio. 
  •  Channel 5 News flew to the scene to cover the ceremonies at the project, important to the Valley. 
  •  Many dignitaries were on hand. 
  •  Under a hot sun, interested persons from throughout the Del Rio area were gathered for the event. 
  •  Special guests were U.S. Commissioner Joe Friedkin of the IBWC from El Paso. 
  •  Dignitaries from throughout the U.S. were present for the ceremonies marking the first pouring of concrete for the 150 million dollar project. 
  •  State Senator Dorsey Hardeman, San Angelo. 
  •  The Texas Attorney General, Waggoner Carr. 
  •  Many federal officials were present, Congressman O.C. Fisher of the 21st district. 
  •  Texas' two U.S. Senators, Ralph Yarborough of Austin and John Tower of Wichita Falls. 
  •  A special guest was a visiting U.S. Congressman from Alabama, Armistead Selden, longtime champion of Amistad Dam. 
  •  Principal address at the ceremonies was given by Senior Texas Senator, Ralph Yarborough, who praised the project as a great engineering feat and a symbol of the continuing friendship between the United States and Mexico. 
  •  Yarborough cited the capricious nature of the Rio Grande through the years, and he said the giant Amistad would control the waters. 
  •  Amistad Dam will be 254 feet high above the original Rio Grande stream bed. 
  •  Sheer bluff on both sides of the river rise some 150 feet from the riverbed at the actual dam site. 
  •  The main dam structure of concrete will be some 100 feet higher. 
  •  The dam's spillway section will be located in the river channel, will have sixteen gates, some 50 feet wide each. 
  •  From the heights above the riverbed, spectators heard construction details of the massive dam given while preparations were being made down below for the first pouring of the concrete. 
  •  Signal for the event was the firing of flares in a high arch over the Rio Grande. 
  •  At that precise moment the huge concrete mixing tower where the material is kept at 60 degrees fill the first four yards of concrete onto equipment for the long journey down to the riverbed via winding road. 
  •  Height of the dam was graphically illustrated by the dwarfing of the huge moving equipment far below the assembled spectators. 
  •  This first load of concrete for Amistad Dam was poured onto forms dug 60 feet below the riverbed. 
  •  Dimensions of the dam are so tremendous, full comprehension is difficult close-up. 
  •  From the air the magnitude of this biggest dam on the Rio Grande becomes apparent. 
  •  Concrete for Amistad will require 1,700,000 cubic yards, about 1,400,000 more than Falcon Dam. 
  •  Approximately six and a half miles long, Amistad will extend over four miles into Mexico. 
  •  The reservoir will cover about 88,000 acres of land in both countries, will extend some 82 miles up the Rio Grande. 
  •  Waters, when impounded, will extend 26 miles up Devil's River, which joins the Rio Grande within sight of the dam. 
  •  Thirty miles upstream, the Pecos River will have waters backed up seventeen miles. 
  •  Capacity of the Amistad Reservoir will be 5,660,000 acre feet of water. 
  •  Three million of this will be in conservation storage. 
  •  Officials told KRGV News that Amistad will impound its first water early in 1968, with final completion not scheduled until late in 1969. 
  •  Amistad Dam in combination with Falcon Reservoir will practically eliminate flood damages along the Rio Grande from Del Rio, all the way through the Valley to the Gulf of Mexico. 
  •  Also, the huge structure will protect and improve the water supply situation for the Valley, which has more than 800,000 highly productive acres under irrigation on the U.S. side alone. 
  •  Both Mexico and the U.S. are sharing the cost of Amistad, known as Friendship Dam - long talked about, now becoming a reality. 
  •  We'll have more news in a moment, after this for Boggus Motor Sales, McAllen. 
  •  Texas State Senator Dorsey B. Hardeman of San Angelo 
  •  Waggoner Carr, Attorney General of Texas 
  •  Congressman Ovie Clark "O.C." Fisher 
  •  U.S. Senator Ralph Yarborough of Austin 
  •  U.S. Senator John Tower of Wichita Falls 
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July 31, 1965 - Newscaster Darrel Davis reports for Weslaco-based KRGV on the ceremony marking the First Bucket of Concrete poured at the site of the Amistad Dam. The event was attended by a number of statesmen, including Senators Ralph Yarborough and John Tower and Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr. The segment also provides facts and statistics about the dam project, delivered over footage of the excavation site and aerial views of the region.
The Amistad Dam is an international dam on Rio Grande River built in 1969 to create a reservoir of 5,250,000 acre-feet for flood control, conservation, hydroelectric generation, and recreational uses. The Amistad is the largest of the U.S.-Mexico operated storage dams and reservoirs on the Rio Grande at 6.1 miles long and 254 feet above the riverbed. The dam has 16 spillway gates that can release up to 1,500,000 cubic feet of water per second. The reservoir runs about 75 miles up the Rio Grande, has a surface area of 65,000 acres, and a volume of 3,124,260 acre feet. The dam was constructed by the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) as a joint investment of the United States and Mexico. Both companies are responsible for the operation and maintenance of Amistad, as it benefits and protects regions on both sides of the border. President Richard M. Nixon and Mexican President Diaz Ordaz jointly dedicated the dam in 1969.t