We went out to the countryside yesterday about 70 km from Dushanbe to Nurek Dam. Nurek was a purpose-built town that the Soviets created when the dam was built. Construction started in 1961 and, I believe I heard correctly, was completed in 1978. Although it doesn’t look as imposing or impression as the Hoover Dam, due to its construction of stone and dirt rather than of concrete in my opinion, it is taller (984 ft. v. 726 ft) and produces more energy (up to 2,700 megawatts at a time v. 2,080 megawatts). According to the chief engineer of Nurek, that’s equivalent to the power generated by two nuclear reactors. The Nurek reservoir behind the dam is also quite big, almost 38 square miles large, although this is a lot smaller than Lake Mead, which was created by the Hoover Dam and is over 246 square miles in size.
That said, Nurek was pretty impressive. Below are photos showing the dam and electrical works.
Yup, another big statute of Lenin, this one in the center of Nurek. There apparently are more ehtnic Russians and Ukrainians than in other parts of Tajikistan as many workers shipped to Nurek for construction of the dam stayed on after its completion. I can’t verify this, but I did notice fewer Tajik-style hats being worn by the men of Nurek, so there’s that.
Because we were with the chief engineer we got a tour of the facilities including the control room, which looked like a set from a Bond movie in 1962. Lots of weird dials and knobs and old-fashioned gauges overseen by guys in knockoff Levis and smoking cigarettes. It was surreal; I kept expecting Goldfinger to come out from behind the curtain (yes, the walls — not the windows, the walls were curtained). They wouldn’t let us take photos of the control room, which is a shame, so above is shown the mural and stained glass directly outside the control room, which are pretty impressive exemplars of Soviet art.
The reservoir stretched on for miles behind the dam and we were lucky to be able to hire a house boat to swim and have a Tajik “picnic” on the man-made lake. Apparently, our host, one of my friend’s landlord in Dushanbe, had quite a few connections and that and a few Somoni got us in. Those pics are for another day, but this is a view of the Nurek reservoir:
I’m off to Prague for work tomorrow, but that probably means good wireless access, so I’ll try to get some more photos up soon.