The anniversary of the completion of one of Wyoming’s most impressive engineering feats was celebrated recently as Cody marked the 25th anniversary of the expansion of Buffalo Bill Dam.
The $132 million expansion project launched in 1985 raised the dam’s height from 325 feet to 350, increasing its storage capacity by 260,000 acre-feet.
The “Great Dam Day” on Aug. 17 celebrated the completion of the project with a number of activities that gave visitors a chance to stop by the dam and its visitor’s center.
Among the attendees was Bill McCormick, who served as the project manager for the expansion.
McCormick said one of the most challenging parts of the job was removing a large section of a mountain to allow for the expansion.
Project officials soon figured out that rock from the mountain could be used as “riprap” to line the reservoir’s shoreline, he said, eliminating the need to bring in the material from elsewhere.
“So it seemed very logical,” he said. “We had good granite right here and (workers could) take the rock from here.”
While the project was originally supposed to be completed in five years, various developments delayed completion, McCormick said.
“The estimated five years for the project actually took 11 as things were modified or problems came up or the design changed,” he said.
The dam today provides irrigation water for more than 90,000 acres of land in the Big Horn Basin, along with a 6-mile long reservoir that serves as a recreation area.