Coolidge in the Great Southwest

October 20, 2014

6ef91fe8-2799-4dd6-b178-3d0ac0a03c65 By Rushad Thomas

The Southwestern United States is a stunningly beautiful corner of the world. With desert as far as the eye can see, cacti taller than your head, and an ancient heritage of indigenous peoples who pioneered in technology long before the first European settlers arrived, this region of our country holds tremendous treasures that I encourage you all to explore.

I had the pleasure October 3 – 5 of exploring a southwestern treasure directly related to President Calvin Coolidge, the dam on the Gila River in Arizona that is eponymously named for him. Dedicated by Coolidge on March 4, 1930, the Coolidge Dam is a massive edifice, composed of three large domes, approximately 250 feet in height, anchored by two buttresses. The Dam impounds the Gila River for 23 miles when full.

Coolidge played an integral part in the construction of the dam. On June 7, 1924 President Coolidge signed the legislation authorizing the dam, which was passed unanimously by the Senate and House of Representatives, and presented to him by the Arizona Congressional Delegation. He presided at the dedication ceremony, attended by more than 3,000 people, with First Lady Grace Coolidge at his side. Satirist Will Rogers, also in attendance, looked down from the dam at the grass in the lake bed, and quipped “If this were my dam, I’d mow it!” You can view footage of the dedication by clicking here.

In addition to exploring the wonders of the Coolidge Dam, I also had the privilege of staying in the City of Coolidge, Arizona, about an hour southeast of Phoenix, which was named for President Coolidge in 1925. Nearly 90 years later, the City of Coolidge is a wonderful, vibrant community. While there, I spoke to the town historical society about President Coolidge and the work of the Foundation, and invited them all to join us here at the Notch for our Worldwide Coolidge Reunion to be held next summer. I was also privileged to be able to ride in the Coolidge Days Parade as the representative of the Coolidge Foundation. That was quite a ride!

I am very grateful to the people of Coolidge, Arizona for their hospitality and generosity to me, and I look forward to welcoming them, and you, to Plymouth Notch July 30 – August 2, 2015 for our Worldwide Coolidge Reunion!

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One Response to “Coolidge in the Great Southwest”

  1. Ralph Swain

    Rushad: It was great spending the weekend with you and introducing you to all the Coolidge people involved in the Artisan Village and the City of Coolidge. Glad you like the journey into “Indian Country” on our trek to the remote but beautiful Coolidge Dam site. I and other representatives of Coolidge are planning a visit to Plymouth Notch next July-Aug for the “Coolidge Family Reunion.” Looking forward to visiting Plymouth Notch again.
    Ralph Swain
    Coolidge, AZ

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