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Washington State University Libraries
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Pullman, WA 99164-5610 USA
(509) 335-6691

Cage 709

Clifford R. Koester

Papers, 1927-1972


The papers of Clifford R. Koester were donated to Washington State University in two separate installments, by Mr. Koester in 1985 (MS 1985-30) and by Ronald and Ronda Koester in 2002 (MS 2002-23). The collection was processed in 2006 by Cheryl Gunselman, Manuscripts Librarian.


Number of containers: 4

Linear feet of shelf space: 2.5




Clifford R. Koester (1912-1991) was born in Amarillo, TX, and spent his childhood in Ismay, MT. From 1941 to 1961 he worked as a journeyman electrician for the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, first at the Leavenworth (WA) fish hatchery and then at the Grand Coulee Dam. He was a long-time member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and a resident of the town of Coulee Dam (WA).




The primary focus of the collection is the construction and operation of the Grand Coulee Dam. It includes an unpublished history of the dam and a substantial amount of ephemera (primarily newsletters and pamphlets) related to the dam. The collection also includes materials related to larger questions about reclamation and development, some expressing opposition to federal government regulatory powers.


In his history of the dam, Koester focused on the contributions of laborers to the monumental project. In the dedication, he observed that "the ability and achievements of the planners and engineers have often been extolled elsewhere. I wish to speak now of the craftsmen and common workmen who toiled here, and gave a part of their lives to further this great work…"


The arrangement for this collection was created during processing in the absence of a usable original order. Many printed items have been removed from the papers for separate cataloging. (Note: please contact MASC staff if you need assistance in locating these items in the online catalog.)


The papers have been arranged in five series:


Series 1: History of the Columbia Basin Project by Clifford R. Koester, 1945. Three-volume typescript (bound), illustrated with approximately 176 United States Bureau of Reclamation photographs. Discusses many aspects of the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam and includes some information about related Columbia Basin projects.

Series 2: Correspondence and notes; 1945-1955, undated. The materials in this series are related to two main topics: Koester's research for his history of the Grand Coulee Dam, and his opposition to federal government regulation of recreational use of Lake Roosevelt.

Series 3: Newsletters, 1936-1958. Includes issues of the Pacific Northwest Development Association Bulletin, the Columbia Basin Project Safety News, and the Columbian.

Series 4: Reports, pamphlets, and miscellaneous materials, 1927-1972.

Series 5: Photographs; 1948, undated.





Box     Folder       Description


Series 1: History of the Columbia Basin Project, 1945


1          1-3             History of the Columbia Basin Project by Clifford R. Koester (bound typescript and photographs), 1945.


Series 2: Correspondence and notes; 1945-1955, undated


2          4                Correspondence and notes; 1945-1955, undated.


Series 3: Newsletters, 1936-1958


            5                M.W.A.K. Columbian newsletter (Mason City, WA: Mason-Walsh-Atkinson-Kier Co.), 1936-1937.

            6-9             The Columbian newsletter (Mason City, WA: Consolidated Builders), 1938-1941.

                              Columbia Basin Project Safety News, 1944-1950

            10-14               Newsletters, 1944-1950.

3          15-16               Newsletters, 1944-1950. (continued)

            17                    Layouts, circa 1947-1950.

            18-20         Pacific Northwest Development Association Bulletin, 1947-1955.

            21              Miscellaneous newsletters, 1947-1958.


Series 4: Reports, pamphlets, and miscellaneous materials, 1927-1972


            22              "Specifications for Construction and Material, Grand Coulee Dam--Columbia Basin Project." Annotated typescript, undated.

            23              "Brown-Boveri Circuit Breaker Tests 230-KV Air-Blast Circuit Breaker, March 14-March 18, 1951." Typescript, circa 1951.

            24              "The Columbia Basin Project, 1890-1940," by J. B. Fink. Speech (typescript), 1940.

            25              "Revelations--1948," by Michael W. Straus. Speech (typescript), 1948.

            26              Appraisal report, Town of Coulee Dam, WA, Federal Housing Administration, 1956.

            27              "Why a CVA?" by Hugh Mitchell, 1945.

                              "What's Inside the CVA Bill?" by J. K. Cheadle, 1946.

                              "Do We Want More TVAs?" 1946.

            28              "Bureau of Reclamation Region 1 Employee Handbook," 1950.

            29              "Coulee Dam General Plan." Printed report, 1950.

            30              "The Columbia Basin Project" Printed report, 1950.

4          31              "The Grand Coulee Dam Area: A Preliminary Report," by George A. Shipman, 1950.

            32              "The Grand Coulee Dam Area: Final Report and Recommendations," by George A. Shipman, 1954.

            33              "History of Grand Coulee Dam Area: Community Development Study," 1958.

            34              Pamphlets

                                    "Columbia Basin Project," U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, 1959.

                                    "The Story of CVA," League for C.V.A., undated.

                                    "The 'Authority' Issue," prepared by Clifford H. Stone, undated.

                                    "Columbia Valley Authority," Homer D. Angell, 1945.

                                    "Question and Answer Handbook about the Columbia Interstate Compact," undated.

                                    "The Repayment of Construction Costs on Federal Reclamation Projects," Ross Morris, 1949.

            35                    Miscellaneous pamphlets about Albeni Falls Dam and McNary Dam, 1954-1955.

            36              "Pacific Builder and Engineer," December 1947.

            37              "The Journal of Electrical Workers and Operators," September 1945.

            38              "The 'Palouse Soil' Problem," Kirk Bryan (U.S. Geological Survey bulletin 790-B), 1927.

                              Miscellaneous or unidentified; 1949-1972, undated.


Series 5: Photographs; 1948, undated


            39-42         Photographs; 1948, undated.