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The Columbia River is the most important river that enters the Pacific from the west coast of North America. Arising in the mountains of British Columbia in western Canada, the Columbia flows 1,243 miles (2000 km) to enter the Pacific at Astoria on the Washington-Oregon border. The river is navigable to oceangoing vessels as far as Portland, where Kaiser ran a large Maritime Commission shipyard, and there is heavy barge traffic as far inland as Pasco at the confluence with the Snake River.
Hydroelectric power was already being extensively developed on the Columbia in 1941. The Grand Coulee Dam was the largest concrete structure in the world and, together with the Bonneville dam just east of Portland, was generating abundant electric power. Other dams were under construction or being planned.
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