Bottomless Pit — Monticello Dam Drain Hole

All over the world there are amazing sits to see. Some natural phenomena and some are man-made either way most are quite enjoyable and peak human interests. One of the most interesting man-made sites is the Monticello Dam Drain hole in Lake Berryessa located in Napa county California. This dam drain is also known as the, “bottomless pit”.

Drain holes or glory holes are used to drain excess water from the dam to keep from overflowing. During the dry season skateboarders and bikers enjoy using the cement funnel as a half pipe. The Bottomless Pit is the largest in the world, measuring at about 72 feet at the opening and narrowing to about 28 feet at the bottom. From the opening where water is sucked down the funnel to the spill point where the water is released is about 700 feet.

Bottomless Pit — Monticello Dam Drain Hole

The bottomless pit is not used very often since the water level does not typically exceed capacity

The bottomless pit is not used very often since the water level does not typically exceed capacity. When it does it takes in about 48,400 cubic feet of water per second. That to say the least is a lot of water.

Just like any other damn you can drive around or over it and depending on the season of your visit you should be able to either see the cement funnel itself or the amazing act of water being pulled through to the other side. Either way just being able to witness the size and magnitude of this amazing creation will leave you in awe.

This magnificent man-made tourist attraction may look like the ultimate challenge to swim along but in actuality it is extremely dangerous. There are markers a good distance away from the Glory Hole and the Spill way to keep boats and swimmers away but some who are bound and determine have crossed the lines. Most recently a graduate student from UC Davis was pulled into the hole and drowned in 1997. Swimming near the spill way can cause you to be sucked under the water without thousands of pounds of pressure shoving you underneath. The best swimmers in the world are not strong enough to get away from the pull of the spill way or Glory Hole, hence the warning signs and markers to stay away. Only observe the marvel from a safe distance.

The Glory hole construction began in 1953 and ended in 1957, it closed off Putah creek. It is named Monticello Dam because after the dam was built it covered what used to be the town of Monticello. During the driest times of the year you can still see the remains of a town, or at least the main foundations of what used to be a town.

Monticello was a small farming town that grew wheat in abundance in the mid 1800’s after an arrangement with the Mexicans went smooth enough to settle a few land disputes. The mild winters and a great harvesting season made Monticello a very fruitful farm land. In 1896 it was decided to build bridges over the Putah Creek. From the time of 1901 there were numerous proposals to dam the creek, however none were acted upon for decades. It was not until 1947 that one of those proposals was accepted. The dam was agreed upon for the growth of the surrounding areas. Those who did not support the proposal packed up and left the valley to find new homes.

Bottomless Pit Monticello Dam Drain Hole

Amazing act of water being pulled through to the other side

Construction of the dam did not begin until 1953. As the construction of the dam began the demolition of Monticello ensued as well. Buildings and homes were brought to rubble. They did not even take the time to demolish the entirety of the Putah Creek Bridge; it was left to be covered but the raising water. When the dam was finished in 1957 Lake Berryessa was born.

The history of the town and lake, the birth of the bridge and onto the construction of the dam all lead to the glorious creation of the drain hole that is now known as the Bottomless Pit that keeps the water levels contained behind the great Monticello Dam.
It does not matter if you get to see the drain hole in all its glory or at a peaceful standstill it is worth seeing. If you are in the area, take the detour to see the amazing sight. The dam itself and the surrounding landscape offer much for the eye to take in as well. The Glory Hole as it is famously called has rightly earned the name. But you will have to see it for yourself.

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