Lassen County
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Shasta Dam and Shasta Lake
12 miles north of Redding, California

Bureau of Reclamation
Management Unit:
Northern California Area Office
BOR Northern California Office
16349 Shasta Dam Blvd.
Shasta Lake, CA 96019
(530) 275-4463 / (530) 275-1554

  • Ampitheater
  • Dam
  • Lookout Tower
California and recreation are synonymous. Shasta Lake, part of a national recreation area, is one of the major outdoor attractions in California and the western United States, recording more than two million visitors annually. The lake boasts 365 miles of shoreline and nearly 30,000 surface acres. Shasta Dam is the second largest dam in mass in the United States. (Grand Coulee on the Columbia River in Washington State is the largest.) Shasta Dam is a curved concrete gravity-type dam with 6.5 million cubic yards of concrete weighing 15 million tons. Construction of the dam started in 1938 and ended in 1945. The dam is 602 feet high, 883 feet thick at the bottom, 30 feet thick at the top, and 3,460 feet long. The face of the dam covers 31 acres, equal to six football fields and their stadiums. The spillway, 487 feet, is the largest manmade waterfall in the world. Three times the height of Niagara Falls. It is 375 feet wide with three drum gates each 110 feet wide, 28 feet tall, and weighing 500 tons each. There are 18 outlets on the face of the dam, each 8 1/2 feet in diameter (large enough to drive a pickup truck through) with a maximum spillage capacity of 186,000 cubic feet per second. Shasta Lake is the largest manmade reservoir in the State of California, with a drainage of 6,665 square miles.


How to Get There:
I-5 to Shasta Lake City, Exit Shasta Dam Blvd. and follow to HWY 151 which leads to the Dam.


The Visitor Center is open daily April through October; Monday - Friday, rest of the year. Free guided tours of the Dam and Powerplant are also available daily. Call for times of tours.


Fee(s) Charged: No
Free Daily Tours


Other Important Information:
Virtual Tour

1. Diversion Tunnel Prior to the construction of the dam, the main line track of the Southern Pacific Railroad was located approximately where the powerplant building is today. So, in order to move the railroad out of the way, this tunnel was constructed to temporarily reroute the trains under the dam site.

Rerouting of the railroad was not the only use for this tunnel. In early spring 1943, after the new main line railroad was completed, the Sacramento River was diverted through it while the center spillway section was completed up to the first tier of outlets.

2. Powerplant Lobby The construction of the dam took 6 years, 9 months, of which 5 1/2 years were spent pouring concrete 24 hours a day. The concrete was poured in blocks 50 by 50 by 5 feet, there where 11,169 forms. They brought the gravel and rock from Redding by the Civic Auditorium. The Conveyor belt was 9.6 miles long.

3. Penstocks The penstocks carry water from the lake to the turbines in the powerplant. There are five penstocks each 15 feet in diameter-large enough to drive a school bus through. They are 3/4-inch thick at the top and 2 3/8-inch thick at the bottom coming into the powerplant. Each one weighs 1600 tons, and water flows at 15,000 to 18,000 gallons per second (10 to 13 miles per hour). The water enters the penstocks at about 45 degrees Farenheit and exits about 48 degrees Farenheit.

4. Powerplant Shasta Dam's Powerplant is 156 feet tall (the height of a 15-story building), 450 feet long, and 107 feet wide. It houses two overhead cranes rated at 125 tons each. There are three transformers for each of the five generators.

Shasta's Powerplant is the largest hydroelectric generating plant in California, wi

Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association
1699 HWY 273, Anderson, CA 96007 | (P) 530-365-7500 | (F) 530-365-1258
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