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Fifty years ago this June, down in the Gunnison River canyons above the National Park, the Bureau of Reclamation set two construction companies to work on a project that had not been tried before, at least on the scale proposed: a thin-arch double-curvature high dam.
Most of the dams that the Bureau of Reclamation was building in that dam-building era were "gravity dams" — big masses of either concrete or dirt, clay and rock, piled in the path of a river to store its waters for later uses.