Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River and Yichang City

The Three Gorges Dam Project

Since we traveled along the section of the river above the Three Gorges Dam, this meant we would encounter the dam and have to traverse it to continue downstream. To traverse the dam structure, we had to go through the dam’s lock structure. This was truly amazing to us in terms of the shear gargantuan size of the all the structures.

We entered into the locks at dusk so seeing everything around us was a bit difficult. This was also made difficult due to the smog. To our surprise, we entered into the first set of locks alongside with five other ships. I think each lock can hold up to eight ships our size at the same time. We ultimately went through five sets of locks to descend from the upper river level to the level below the dam—perhaps 40 meters. This process took us about 3 hours. What efficiency, the huge gates closed, the water level dropped a foot a second, we moved into the next lock, and repeated.

The next morning we went on a tour to sections of the dam. The dam project is also hard to describe without using superlatives: decades in the making, about $30 billion cost, thousands of workers, a monumental engineering feat, taming a powerful river from flooding downstream, and huge electrical output.

Yichang City

We ended our river cruise in the city of Yichang, a city that has had its population grow 3-fold since the dam began construction. Yichang was a semi-modern city but what most struck us were the numerous high-rise housing projects in even this remote small city. We even saw a western-style, single-family subdivision development.

In this city, we had a tour guide for our trip from the boat to the airport back to Beijing. He amazed us with his knowledge of bridges worldwide. It seemed to us that he knew of every type of bridge in the world and it relative size to each other. He informed us that New Orleans has the longest bridge in the world across Lake Pontchartrain. We then told him we were from New Orleans and he was now impressed with us.


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