Dam the Columbia: "Hysterical Hooey"
"Charley got his dam."
The Umatilla Rapids Dam was among the key units of the proposed Columbia River development. Because not all dams could be funded simultaneously, a debate ensued and the Umatilla Dam became connected in Congress to Ice Harbor Dam on the lower Snake River. While members of eastern Oregon protested the pairing, Senator Charles McNary joined with the Portland Chamber of Commerce to push for building Bonneville Dam, and Senator C.C. Dill of Washington vied for Grand Coulee. With the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the onset of the Great Depression the Umatilla Rapids Dam was postponed, while construction began on Bonneville. According to the East Oregonian, "Charley got his dam," Portland got theirs, and linking Ice Harbor and the Umatilla Dam was deemed "Hysterical Hooey."
Promises of cheap water transportation, relief to farmers, diminishing freight rates, and commercial navigation from the sea to Lewiston, Idaho, made the Umatilla Dam the "missing link" in Columbia River development. The proposed dam received "new life" when a bill authorizing its construction was passed in April of 1939.