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Introduction to Volume Two, Part II (1950-1987)
In its early days, the Bonneville Power Administration made films to educate communities, students and business leaders about the benefits of clean, affordable and reliable power from federal hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. After promoting the development of the Federal Columbia River Power System and the idea of public power in the 1930s, BPA films began to tell new stories about the Northwest power system, and the challenges and victories that took place over the next four decades. Here, BPA librarian Libby Burke introduces four films from BPA Film Collection, Volume Two, 1950-1987.

The first film, “Intertie” (1969), showcases the construction of the Pacific Northwest-Pacific Southwest Direct Current Intertie, a high-voltage electric superhighway between the Northwest and Southwest that helps balance power needs in the West and allows the two regions to share surplus electricity. The next film, “River of Power” (1987), provides a grand sweep of the Pacific Northwest’s history as it relates to the regional power system and completes nearly 50 years of BPA documentary filmmaking. Burke also talks about “Action on the Columbia” (1964), a BC Hydro film that provides the Canadian perspective on the Columbia River Treaty, an international agreement between Canada and the United States that guides the management of water resources of the Columbia River Basin and helps prevent major floods. The collection closes with the international cut of “Hydro,” the first film created by BPA's Motion Picture Information Division in 1939. This alternate version, made in 1944, removes about eight minutes of electricity rate and other local information from the original 33-minute film. And this was the was version Vice President Henry Wallace took on his goodwill visit to Russia, Mongolia and China in the spring of 1944. For background on the first three films in the collection, watch part one.

BPA Film Collection, Volume Two, 1950-1987, as well as BPA Film Collection, Volume One, 1939-1954, is also available on DVD. To get a free copy, contact BPA’s Library and Visitor Center in Portland at 800-622-4520, or