The Three Gorges – Part 1

D. Chetham

Sandouping is a town in Yiling District of Yichang city in the Chinese province of Hubei. It is located on the southern bank of the Yangtze River.

Sandouping is the location of the Three Gorges Dam, which is the world’s largest electricity-generating plant of any kind.

As the Three Gorges Dam is built down river after the Qutang, Wu and Xiling Gorges [named in the order of the flow of the Yangtze], the dam does not fully obstruct one’s view of the spectacular and violent beauty of the Three Gorges.

The river level over the Three Gorges is higher and wider due to the dam. The mountains above the gorges now appear lower. But one can still see the sheer cliffs and peaks rising above the Yangtze. One can still cruise the Three Gorges.

When China announced plans in 1992 to build the dam there were many critics who complained of the adverse impact on the environment and cultural loss due to the forced relocation of over a million people and the submerging of a dozen large cities, 1500 villages and innumerable historical and cultural sites.

But what is not well known is that way back in 1919 Sun Yat Sen had already proposed to build a dam in the Three Gorges. Chiang Kai Shek in 1932 had started work on plans to build. The Americans agreed to help design and build the dam. The Japanese invaders intended to build the dam once victory was achieved.

Before the Deluge the Vanishing World of the Three Gorges by Deirdre Chetham, 2002 ed, is an excellent book on the history and cultural aspects of the Yangtze’s Three Gorges and its inhabitants.

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