In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers elected the Itaipu Dam as one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, and Cat® products played a role in building it. The dam is located on the Paraná River, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. The name "Itaipu" was taken from an isle that existed near the construction site.
The giant Itaipu hydroelectric project (66 million cubic meters of earth and rock excavation) was a joint venture for Brazil and Paraguay. The project spanned almost nine years, from 1975 to its opening in 1984.
Planning for the dam actually started in the mid-1960s, but active construction began in late 1975. The work went to a consortium of 13 contractors — five Brazilian and eight Paraguayan. The Brazilian contractors were responsible for about 90 percent of the project, while 10 percent was handled through Paraguayan contractors.
When the first Cat machines arrived for land clearing at Itaipu, experienced mechanics from the local Cat dealer were transferred onsite to assure that service would be excellent from the outset. The Cat dealer supplied parts directly from a warehouse on the dam site.
When the first 50 Cat-built units arrived in port, the dealer assembled and transported each machine to the work site. This served to reassure the contractors of Caterpillar’s readiness to support the project from the outset. It also resulted in continued sales of Cat equipment on the dam construction job.
Itaipu Dam joined a long list, including the Hoover, Mangla, Three Gorges, and Bhakra Dams, where Cat products helped change the world.