California black hole

Glory Hole

Does the image that illustrates the article catch your attention? It's amazing, isn't it? Do you wonder if it is something natural or artificial, what is it and where is it? Well, it's about the california black hole, also known as Gloryhole.

El Glory Hole it's man-made and it's in a dam in county Napa, Calif.. Let's learn a little more about him in our article today.

Monticello Dam

Persian Montcielli

As we said above, this construction is part of a dam or dam that is in Napa County, California. The dam in particular is the Monticello Dam which It was built between 1953 and 1957.

The construction ended up controlling the course of Putah Creek in northern California, a tributary of the Sacramento River. The canyon through which the stream passes is 137 kilometers long and receives its waters from the Mayacamas Mountains, part of the Coastal Range, which flows eastward crossing two dams, one of which is precisely the Monticelli Dam.

The construction of the dam created the Berryssa Lake, a huge artificial lake that is counted as the seventh lake of these characteristics, gigantic size, in California. The water is used primarily for agriculture in the Sacramento Valley.

dry glory hole

The dam is made of concrete with an arch of 93 meters. The capacity of the reservoir is enormous and some time later, in 1983, a hydropower plant with three generators that primarily powers the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Glory Hole

Gloru Hole under construction

What is it about? This "black hole" in California is nothing more than the spillway of the Monticello dam. What is a spillway? Is a structure that serves to control the release of water from a dam, generally towards the river bed or in the dam itself.

The Glory Hole of the Monticello Dam it is 22 meters in diameter at lake level and tapers to about 8 and a half meters at the outlet. At lake level the spillway can drain up to 1370 cubic milliliters per second, something that occurs when the lake water level rises up to 4.7 meters above the level of the tunnel.

The last time this happened naturally was in 2019. Before that year the same thing happened in 2017 after several storms, but before that, the phenomenon had not occurred for a decade. 

Glory Hole from the air

Of course swimming here is strictly prohibited, but still you can't take people's intelligence for granted. So unfortunately one person died in 1997: A woman named Emily Schwalek, 41, died when she was swept away while swimming near the Glory Hole. She managed to cling to the edge for 20 terrifying minutes, but in the end she was swept away and drowned.

It is also said that actually commited suicide because if the water level had been that high she wouldn't have been able to hold on to the edge. In fact, he also tried to talk to her and convince her to swim to the shore, but the woman refused. So, it seems that rather than "sucked in" she let herself go and, finally, her body was found many hours later in the lower part of Putah Canyon.

Glory Hole on an old postcard

So, swimming is not advised in certain places or on certain days, but Yes, you can do water activities in the Vaca Mountains reservoir, created artificially by the same dam. On sunny days it's great for swimming, fishing, water skiing, kayaking or canoeing.

You also see many seaplanes since the lake has a special port for them. If you go and get closer to the dam itself, which is where the water level is almost always low, you will see the bare Glory Hole, that is, the concrete tower that rises above the surface of the lake. It is then, when the water level rises that it becomes that devil swirl that we know as Glory Hole, something very hypnotic.

In fact, it has become very popular and since we can all have a drone there are always many flying over it and taking good videos that are later uploaded to YouTube. But, Is it the only spillway of its kind in the world?

Glory Hole

Well no, it's not even the one that has this shape, a bell if you will. There are other equal ones, for example, in the Harriman Dam in Vermont, United States, in the Ladybower Dam in Derbushire, United Kingdom, in the Gibson Dam in Montana or in the San Roque Dam in Córdoba, Argentina.

Some more information about the Monticello Dam: its construction was part of the so-called Solano Project, a XNUMXth century project to irrigate Solano and Yolo counties to expand agricultural activities which since the 50th century had very little water in the summer months. The land was bought in the XNUMXs and when construction began the farmers moved out and the land itself was flooded.

glory hole in california

Of course, just as there were voices in favor, there were voices against, but the project continued its course, the lands continued to be flooded, buildings were demolished, graves were moved, and by the end of that decade everything was almost finished. In 1963 the total flooding of Monticello finally took place, although even today if the water level is low you can see some buildings, like a ghost town.

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