Boysen Dam

For any Wyoming history buffs out there… Here are two photos I found interesting.

Boysen Dam is south of Thermopolis, Wyoming.  Construction began in 1946.  It is a rockfill dam, eventually reaching a height of 220′ and length of 1,143′.  The crest of the dam is 30′ wide, but the base is over 900′!  That’s pretty impressive.

boysen DamI’ve driven past here a zillion times.

At the mouth of Wind River Canyon, Boysen is responsible for hydroelectric power and irrigation.  It’s a quick insight into how much snowpack this part of Wyoming has received.

I’ve fished below the dam, and played in the water above the dam.

It’s also why I think these are cool photos.

Boysen DamTaken May 22, 1950, Fred and Dora Greet watch the progress of Boysen Dam’s construction.  How fascinating that must have been to have a bird’s eye view!


I can’t help but remember my dad’s fascination with the dam and the river… but most of all… his grins about riding the trains through the canyon.  My dad as a youngster would often hop trains in rural Oklahoma, just for kicks, and for real transportation as well.  In Wind River Canyon, the highway is on the east side of the river, just wide enough for the highway in most parts and the train tracks are on the west side of the river, squeaking through tunnels and narrow ledges.  My dad noticed that as you approached Boysen Dam, the train tracks *disappear*.  Finally, down the road, the train reemerges from its tunnel… and my dad always thought it’d be great to hitch a ride and go through that tunnel!!! Well, tonight I finally researched that and found the tunnel is 7,131′ long.  That would be a long dark trip, but if I ever get a chance, I’ll take that train trip under Boysen Dam!


Boysen Dam — 8 Comments

  1. I was in first grade in Shoshoni when they started the dam , the contractor was Morrison and Knutson or M K. This was just after the end of WW 2 most of the workers were Veterans so they all had children and it caused problems at the school with so many extra kids. M K built a housing development in Shoshoni, called the M K division it is still there now. Also they built about 15 homes in a circle about a mile from the dam , I think all but a couple are gone now , I think some of the managers etc. lived there . The railroad tunnel was a significant part of the construction project, if you are watching you can spot some of the vents to allow air to escape or suck in as the train moves through it.

  2. Back in the 50’s about 1957 or 1958 When I was in the 3th. or 4th. grade. The classes got to ride the train to Thermopolis for a swim and back to Shoshoni on the bus. They had a passenger car for the day. It was fun and dark the train went slow all the way to Thermopolis.

  3. I went to high school and lived in Thermopolis for a few years, in the late 60’s. I fished below the dam, with the Thermop Monsignor of the Catholic Church on Arapaho street. Some trout and sauger were common catches, as were suckers and Carp. I have floated the river in a rubber raft from the campground below the dam, and got wet and cold doing it. The fishing in the canyon is subject to Wind River Indian rules and I did so, usually without a permit. Beautiful Canyon, just wonder if the dam has been tested in recent years for it’s ability to withstand earthquakes. ??

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