A coulee is a kind of valley or drainage zone. The Grand Coulee is an ancient river bed in north-central Washington State. And the Grand Coulee Dam is a massive concrete gravity dam on the Columbia River, built to produce hydroelectric power and to provide irrigation water. Only the Three Gorges dam in the Yangtze River in Hubei province, China, is a bigger dam in terms of concrete used for the dam wall and construction.
The original dam was constructed from 1933 to 1940 at a cost of $300 million. The Third Power Plant, constructed from 1967 to 1980, cost $700 million. If the dam were constructed today, it would cost $8.26 billion. The dam today generates some 20 billion kW-hrs of electricity every year, distributed to 11 states.