Benefits of the Dam
The Glen Canyon dam created a myriad of industries around the use of Lake Powell by tourists. However, at the dam’s dedication ceremony, there is little reference to the use of the reservoir for recreational purposes. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall and Governors Rampton and Goddard, of Utah and Arizona respectively, were more interested in utilizing the Glen Canyon dam as a way of making the desert, to borrow a favorite pioneer phrase, “bloom like the rose.”
Proponents argued that indigenous communities living around the dam would also benefit greatly from irrigation projects the dam would make possible, garnering support from Navajo leaders. Support for the dam from indigenous communities complicates the narrative of 20th century environmental and indigenous movements, and it might illuminate the desire of tribal nations to integrate into the U.S. political and economic system.
Before the Glen Canyon dam, thrill seekers and tourists frequented the river. Rafting the river was, and still is, a popular pastime. However, the construction of the dam yielded an entirely different industry of houseboats and speedboats on flat-water Lake Powell, transforming the nature of tourism. Whereas prior to the dam’s construction tourism was limited to risk takers with specialized equipment, the reservoir allowed the masses to visit.