The Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, China, is a modern engineering marvel. At a cumulative cost of over 100 billion dollars, the aggressive project resulted in the world's largest hydroelectric dam ever built. The dam is so large, it has slowed the earth's rotation. Okay, so it is .06 microseconds delay, nothing to brag about. But to see it in person is impressive. The massive dam stretches more than a mile (7,660 feet) and towers 593 feet tall. Because the dam flooded a the valley along the Yangtze River for hundreds of miles, the subsequent rise in water level displaced over one million residents. 510,000 tons of steel were used in the construction of the dam.
As part of our tour to China, we were treated to a four day cruise on the Yangtze River. We began our journey in Beijing. After visiting many popular tourist sites in Beijing, we boarded a flight for Yichang. We arrived at the boat late in the evening. We slept on the boat before heading to the dam the following morning. It was a hazy day marked by a steady, drizzling rain. While the weather may have otherwise dampened the visit, the freshly bloomed cherry trees that dot the hillside along the dam was a stark contrast.
As we passed the dam, driving toward the visitors center, the locks were opening to allow ships to pass through. I managed to snap a photo of the huge gates opening.
Our first stop at the dam was the Three Gorges Project Model Room. Here, visitors learn about the dam, aided with a scale model of the dam and locks. I managed to shoot a short video of the model while the tour guide provided background on the project. The building that houses the model is pictured in my title photo. The video is below.
After visiting the model, we were able to ascend an outdoor escalator to ascend to the viewing platform above the dam. The cherry trees were bursting with pink and red flowers, filling the side of the hill with splashes of color against the dreary day. The escalators were a nice reprieve from some of the steep climbing we had done on our tour to this point. You can take the stairs, if you choose.
As we ascended toward the top, you could see the locks below with a queue of ships as far as the eye could see. Although on an overcast day, the view did not translate well in the photograph.
At the top of the escalators is a vistor's center. There are several sculptures and a garden as well. There is an observation deck at the top of the visitor's center that provides a great view of the locks. There are also several steles with Chinese writing, although I do not know what they said. One was located on the roof of the visitor's center.
There were several ships in the locks when we visited, but they were difficult to see through the mist and overcast sky. The locks had large conveyor systems atop them with large orange structures located atop.
After doing a bit of sightseeing around the dam and locks, we had a few minutes to spend in an open air tourist market adjacent to the visitor's center. There were numerous vendors selling just about anything you might think to buy. As a foodie, I was particularly drawn to the homemade sesame candy. There was a booth where two young men took turns swinging giant wooden mallets to create a sweet pasty treat from sesame and other nuts. The candy was delicious. While it was much cheaper when we purchased it later, at an ancient market in Chongqing, it was a sweet way to end a rainy visit to the Three Gorges Dam. I will leave you with a video of two young men making sesame candy.