Yangtze, China’s longest river and the third longest waterway in the world, originates on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Hundreds of rivers and streams join the Yangtze, which flows like a torrent eastward to empty into the East China Sea.
The Three Gorges in the Yangtze River Valley comprise Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge. The Three Gorges area starts at Baidicheng (White Emperor Town), Fengjie in Sichuan Province and extends to Nanjin Pass, Yichang in Hubei Province, stretching over a total of 120 miles. Qutang Gorge is renowned for its majestic appearance. The peaks tower above the river and the waters tumble down in torrents. Wu Gorge is splendid, intertwined and secluded, housing the famous Twelve Peaks.
The gorges are the largest in the world. The Three Gorges have formed the most attractive visitor route in the world.
Three Gorges Dam
The Three Gorges Key Water Conservancy Project on the Yangtze River (the Three Gorges Project) includes a concrete gravity dam, a sluice gate, a hydropower station behind the dam, a permanent navigation ship lock and a ship lift. The architectures of the Three Gorges Project are composed of the dam, the factory buildings of the hydropower stations and navigation structures. The dam is 9,957 feet long, and 607 feet high. On the left bank of the hydropower station there are 14 generators; on the right bank, 12 generators, totaling 26. Each water turbo generator has an installed capacity of 700,000 kw, totaling 18.2 million kw, and the hydropower station generates 84.7 billion kwh of electricity. The navigation structures stand on the left bank; and the permanent navigation structures include the five-class stair ship lock and the single-line first-class ship lift.
The Three Gorges Project is divided into three phases, lasting a total of 18 years. The first-phase project extended five years (1992-1997), mainly for preparations. The second-phase project spans six years (1998-2003), mainly for the construction of facilities for hydropower stations, the flood discharge sluice and a permanent ship lock, and the installation of generating units on the left bank of the dam. The third-phase spans six years (2003-2009), when the construction of the dam and power stations on the right bank, and the installation of all generating units are be completed.
Now the construction of the Three Gorges Project is in a full swing strictly according to the schedule. After the completion of the second-phase project in June 2003, the water level of the water stored by the dam will raise to 443 feet, and water will return to Fengdu in Chongqing, where the first generating unit on the left bank will generate electricity. At that time, rapids and dangerous shoals on the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River will no longer be seen. Instead, the water surface will be gentle, without any differences between the upper and lower waters. After the water level of the reservoir in the Three Gorges Dam area is lifted from 230 feet to 443 feet, some scenic spots and historical sites in the area will be submerged; but all the high peaks on both banks, with an elevation of between 1,640 to 3,280 feet, can still be seen. The “Goddess Peak” is still elegant; and the “Kuimen” is still magnificent. A scene of high gorges and low waters will become attractive. Thanks to the raise of the water level, many new scenic attractions will appear. Ships can go through many small streams, which were not open to navigation in the past; and a lot of new tourist attractions will be open to the public because of convenient transport facilities; and rich and varied tourist activities will be held in the surrounding areas of the Three Gorges Dam. A group of modern and permanent basic facilities, such as wharves and tourists service centers, will go into operation. A trip to the Three Gorges will become safer, and more convenient and comfortable.
By November 1, 2002, the channels for damming and diverting the Yangtze River for the second time will be stopped, and the navigable courses of the Yangtze River will be closed. Before June 2003, the water level of the Yangtze River in front of and behind the dam will not change (the water level will be about 230 feet). In the period from November 2002 to June 2003, ships are not allowed to go through the river courses in the dam area, and can only travel along the navigable courses on the dam or on the lower reaches in front of the dam. From June 1 to 15, 2003, the reservoir in the dam area will store water, with the water level rising to 443 feet. On June 15, the first-class ship lock will formally go into operation, ships can go through the dam area and the Yangtze River will restore to navigation. The ship tours along the Yangtze River have been arranged until November 1, 2002. Except for some tour ships that will take the navigation lines on the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and other routes, most tour ships will take the wharf on the dam as the destination for the time being (from November 1, 2002 to June 15, 2003). After arriving at the Three Gorges Dam, tourists may go to Yichang by the expressway, only a 40-minute drive. Tourists may also get on a bus in Yichang to go to the Three Gorges Dam, and start a ship tour at the wharf on the dam to appreciate the Three Gorges on the upper and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Starting from June 15, 2003, the operation of tour ships on the Yangtze River will return to normal, and travel services may arrange long-, and short-term trips and various tourist routes according to tourists’ demands.
In general, a tour of the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River includes about 10 tourist attractions, such as Shennong Stream in Badong, Qu Yuan Shrine in Zigui, Tanzi Mountain Range, Lesser Three Gorges in Wushan Mountain, Baidi City in Fengjie, Wanxian County, Shibaozhai in Zhongxian County, Ghost City in Fengdu, Zhang Fei Temple in Yunyang, etc. After the second damming of the Yangtze River, resulting in the raise of the water level up to 443 feet, Shennong Stream, Lesser Three Gorges and Zhang Fei Temple will disappear, and other tourist attractions will remain.
Following is a list of all the cities:
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