50 Facts About Theodore Roosevelt Dam

Last updated on December 2nd, 2022

36. Concrete Overlay

It was a facelift unlike no other. The project required 450,000 cubic yards of concrete and 849 miles of steel reinforcement. Workers poured concrete in blocks measuring 10 feet by 70 feet, with thickness spanning 10 to 50 feet.    

37. New Spillways

You won’t see the old spillways anymore. The new wall covers them up. Instead of releasing water from the top, gates open to release water onto concrete slides for greater control and reliability. 

38. Record Rainfall

Mother Nature confirmed the fears of the engineers. In 1993, record floods swept across Arizona in the middle of the renovation. The spillway had to remain open for four weeks to remove excess water. 

39. Site Damage

The flood delayed the project for six months. It damaged the cofferdams and spillways with an estimated cost of $1 million. Communities downstream had to evacuate because of the rising waters.  

40. Rededication

As in the past, the builders picked up the pieces and continued the renovation. They finished their work in 1996, and a rededication ceremony celebrated the milestone.

Sign at Theodore Roosevelt Dam
Sign at Theodore Roosevelt Dam at Theodore Roosevelt Lake, AZ. Facts about Theodore Roosevelt dam. Photo © Joe Sohm

Random Facts

41. Ancient Canals

The Hohokam people lived in modern-day Phoenix between 300 to 1,500 AD. They mysteriously disappeared, but they left behind a complex irrigation network that American settlers now use to distribute water coming from the Roosevelt Dam.

42. Archeologist Dig In

While workers renovated the dam, archeologists dug around the site for ancient artifacts. They discovered large pottery, small animal effigies, 900-year-old handprints, and other evidence of the rich Salado culture. 

43. A Massive Storage Facility

Savers are survivors! Archeologists also found a 300-yard complex near the dam with storage rooms filled with grains and corn. Ancient farmers saved their surplus for emergencies. They could always eat despite bad harvests. 

44. A Historical Structure

It is a classic. The Roosevelt Dam was an engineering marvel of an unprecedented scale at the turn of the century. It earned the designation of National Historic Landmark on May 23, 1963. 

45. Partial Revocation

The radical renovation made the dam lose its landmark title on March 10, 1999. It does not sting too badly. After all, the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) recognized it as a World Heritage Irrigation Structure in 2019. 

46. Downstream Dams

The Roosevelt Dam is not alone. You can find three other dams downstream – all built to increase reservoir capacity and power generation. These include the Mormon Flat Dam, the Horse Mesa Dam, and the Stewart Mountain Dam. 

Panorama of Roosevelt lake and bridge, Arizona.
Panorama of Roosevelt lake and bridge, Arizona. Facts about Theodore Roosevelt dam. Photo © Maria Feklistova

47. The Salt River

The Roosevelt Dam impounds the Salt River, which got its name from the large salt deposits where the White and Black Rivers merge. The water tends to be cloudy due to mining, sand, and recreation activities. 

48. Lake Recreation

Roosevelt Lake, the dam reservoir, is a popular spot for nature lovers. Boats are allowed to sail and fish for recreation. Visitors can also camp out, hike the trails, watch the birds, take a dip, and explore ancient cliff dwellings.  

49. Fish Species

Come here for a good catch. From Cherry Creek down to Roosevelt Lake, you have 15 fishable miles with excellent diversity. You can see bass, sunfish, carp, catfish, and many other species

50. Roosevelt Lake Bridge

You cannot drive on top of the dam anymore. The road disappeared after the renovation, but a fancy $21.3 million bridge now serves vehicle traffic. The 1,080-foot structure is the longest single-span, two-lane, steel-arch bridge in the US. 

Theodore Roosevelt Dam – quick facts and statistics

Official nameTheodore Roosevelt Dam
Coordinates33°40′18″N 111°09′40″W
Installed capacity36 MW
Type of damArch-gravity dam
LocatedZambia and Zimbabwe
Purposeirrigation and hydroelectric power generation
Owned byBureau of Reclamation
CostUS 10 million
ImpoundsSalt River, Tonto Creek
ReservoirTheodore Roosevelt Lake
Height357 ft (109 m)
Length1,210 ft (369 m)
Spillway150,000 cu ft/s (4,200 m3/s)
Last updatedDecember 02, 2022