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INFO VINE * 50 Facts About The Hoover Dam *

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Post by Paul Wed 07 Feb 2024, 12:35 pm

50 Facts About The Hoover Dam

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Photo courtesy of: Hoover dam / Pixabay
Still considered an engineering marvel today, the hoover dam is known internationally for the incredible feat of human achievement that it took to construct. Especially being that it was completed during our country's worst economic crisis. Here are 50 facts about the Hoover Dam that will give you more perspective on how this dam came to be. 

What is the Hoover Dam?

The Hoover Dam also known as the ​Arch-gravity dam​ and originally the ​Boulder Dam​, sits in Black Canyon in the Colorado River, between the Arizona and Nevada border. It is widely known as one of the biggest built phenomena in the U.S. that was built during the Great Depression between 1931 and 1935.

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Photo courtesy of: dam wall / pixabay

Reserved by Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake, the Hoover Dam was intended to soothe the Colorado River, providing hydroelectric power, irrigation, and water supply throughout the Southwest.

The Design, the Arch

The design of the Hoover Dam was very well-thought-out and designed in such a way that it was utilizing the rocks intelligently to create a gravity effect and a purposeful force to have control over the water pressure and its direction. 

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Photo courtesy of: hoover blocks/ WikiMedia Commons

The dam essentially curves upstream and this allows for the force of the water to be directed to the canyon rock walls, compacting the dam itself. One of the most efficient tools in the building of the Hoover Dam was concrete - it was due to the strength of concrete that this arch-dam was able to be efficiently built in the first place.

The construction company

The government was in search of contractors that would build the arch dam with a height of 60 stories. It was in 1931 that Six Companies Inc. was granted the contract to build the arch dam.

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Photo courtesy of: Bureau of reclamation / WikiMedia Commons

Because there was no individual company that could collect $5million for the performance bond, Harry Morrison from Morrison-Knudsen Co. got various individual companies to join together to create the Six Companies Inc., gathering the $5 million funds in order to secure the performance bond. The companies were J.F. Shea Co., Warren Brothers, Utah Construction Co., MacDonald & Khan Ltd with W.A. Betchel Co., Morrison-Knudsen Co., Henry J. Kaiser, and Pacific Bridge Co.

30 years before the Hoover Dam

In 1902, the U.S. Reclamation Service, now known as the Bureau of Reclamation had appointed Arthur Powell Davis as the head engineer of the dam. For years he devoted himself to the study and vision of this dam, but soon Davis would come to resign. Davis may have been forgotten and unacknowledged for his studies and reports, but it was from his own reports that the Hoover Dam had even begun its conceptualization in the 1920s.

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Photo courtesy of: Arthur Powell Davis/ WikiMedia Commons

Then, Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States, would come to take action on the vision of the Hoover Dam when serving as the secretary of commerce in 1921.

Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover was the 31st president of the United States, a mining engineer and humanitarian. He was born and raised in a family of Quakers, then was left as an orphan - grew up the rest of his youth with an uncle somewhere in Oregon. In 1917, Hoover was appointed the head of the Food Administration and by 1865 he became the secretary of commerce, first under President Warren Harding and continued under Calvin Coolidge.

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Photo courtesy of: Hoover / WikiMedia Commons

Hoover became President in 1928, and soon after the stock market brought the economy to its knees which pushed America into the Great Depression. He appeared to not care for the people due to his political philosophies - stating that if there was extensive action from the federal government, it was intruding and a threat to capitalism. Hoover believed that it all came down to the people, the locals, and voluntary actions.

Hoover was a pioneer of the Hoover Dam construction.
He was defeated by Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential election.

The architect and his work

Gordon V. Kaufmann, born in California, was a marvelous and well-known architect at the time and was mostly admired for his modern works. He wanted to visually complement the engineer’s work, not fight with it - therefore, he approached the dam by transforming the surfaces made out of concrete into modern art designs instead. He left the curve of the dam untouched so that its structure may bloom and added aluminum fins on the windows in the powerhouse. 

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Photo courtesy of: Gordon Kaufmann / WikiMedia Commons

He found a designer, Oskar J.W Hansen, who’d leave a most memorable monument called ​The Winged Figures of The Republic and the monument’s floor honors the Native Americans with a celestial map pointing to the exact date and time Roosevelt directed the dam which was at 8:56 pm, September 30, 1935.

The Name

The name of the Dam changed quite a few times. In 1922, the dam was primarily known as the Boulder Dam due to its initial assumption that it would be built in Boulder, Colorado - soon to be built in Black Canyon due to the elevation being a lot lower, so throughout, it was known as the Boulder Canyon Project. When Secretary of Interior, Ray Liman Wilbur was sent to set a mark of the beginning of the construction of the dam, he announced the dam as “Hoover Dam​” which was a surprise to the people because Hoover was despised during these times.

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Photo courtesy of: Hoover dam monument / WikiMedia Commons

When Roosevelt took office in 1932, Harold Icke, the new Secretary of Interior, the name was officially switched back to ​Boulder Dam​. In 1947, President S. Truman signed the resolution to permanently name the dam ​Hoover Dam​.

The Measurements

The dam’s construction required about 4.4 million yards of concrete. The height of the Hoover Dam is about 726 feet high and 1,244 feet wide, weighing approximately 6,600,000 tons with a concrete base of about 660-feet thick and only 45 feet thick at the top.

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Photo courtesy of: concrete pouring / WikiMedia Commons

Hoover Dam holds 17 turbines of which nine are on the Arizona side and eight are found on the side of Nevada. The power is shared between California using the most - 56%, Arizona using the least, around 19%, and Nevada using about 25%.

The purpose of building it

The Hoover Dam was originally planned for the purpose of having better control over the Colorado River floods and flow while also generating and providing a source of water and electricity mainly to California, which soon came to benefit Arizona and Nevada as well producing four billion kilowatts yearly.

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Photo courtesy of: arial of hoover / pixabay

This was to allow for agriculture, industrial and population to flourish at once. The purpose of building the dam only kept expanding - providing more and more opportunities throughout the construction process in itself. Before the dam was even built, many people were already benefiting from it.

Hydroelectric power

The hydroelectric power at Hoover Dam is used by Nevada, California, and Arizona, with 17 turbines, generating up to four billion kilowatts per year - more than enough to serve over one million inhabitants. Hoover’s hydroelectric system continues to be one of the largest ever built.

It is located at the base of the U-shape - with each plant wing being about 20 stories high and 650 feet long (imagine two football fields).

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Photo courtesy of: turbines / WikiMedia Commons

Between 1986 and 1993, the turbines were upgraded and since, held the capacity of 2,998,000 horsepower. Hydroelectricity is sought for its renewable and clean way of generating energy without wasting water or causing air pollution and toxicity.

Supplying Water

There were southwestern states that required water to develop their towns, cities, and lands for farming - many of which were disabled for long periods prior to the dam. The Hoover Dam began providing an irrigation system for about one million acres of land from Las Vegas to California including San Francisco and San Diego, as well as Arizona (Phoenix) - and even states by the Northern Mexican border.

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Photo courtesy of: River way / WikiMedia Commons

Hoover Dam, by using “recycled” water, was able to supply water to these states, providing the people an avenue for growth in their communities and plantations such as grains, cotton, and fruits - a turning point for many.


In the Spring, the snow would melt all the way from the Rocky Mountains, creating an extensive flood which would cause massive transformation in nature - not ideal for the people, because it would destroy entire regions. 

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Photo courtesy of: the salton sea/ flickr

Though the force of nature can create beauty and wonder, like the Salton Sea in California, which was due to a flood in the desert, it could come down to intervening with the inhabitants - therefore, by creating a dam, it would prevent these so-called disasters and allow for the water to be controlled, utilized and directed to generate energy.


To begin having control of the Colorado River’s water flow, they needed to dry up the river to get to the bed of the river. They took up this project by creating four tunnels, two on each side of the canyon walls, that would direct the water through and below the dam.

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Photo courtesy of: water tunnels / WikiMedia Commons

After excavating the tunnels by drilling (which was the hardest work of the dam’s construction due to the excruciating temperatures), they had to line and grout them up to make sure it was well patched up with zero cracks or airways.


After finishing up two tunnels, to form a cofferdam (temporary one) they poured gravel into the river, which led the river’s flow into the tunnels. They then moved to create the permanent cofferdams, a 98-foot high upstream one, and a 66-foot high downstream cofferdam. 

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Photo courtesy of: cofferdam / WikiMedia Commons

The main purpose of cofferdams as this one is to keep any potential hazards and debris from interfering and creating a potential leak. The “high scalers” were then brought in to remove any loose material from the canyon walls.

A cooling system

One of the setbacks when using concrete in the construction of the dam was that concrete hardens and compresses rather quickly with heat (and there was a lot of heat generated and naturally within the construction itself) and this could potentially cause an oscillation between contraction and expansion of the concrete within the building

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Photo courtesy of: pouring concrete / WikiMedia Commons

Therefore, the engineers came up with a solution. Cooling pipes of refrigerated water that ran over 590 miles were placed within the structure, helping the blocks of concrete to cool one by one - the concrete is said to continue to harden to this day.


Spillways also known as overflow channels, serve to protect the dam from overflowing by directing the excess water (such as floods) downstream to a riverbed. Hoover Dam has two spillways that sit 27 feet below the top of the dam.

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Photo courtesy of: spillway / WikiMedia Commons

The dam is not meant to ever be overflowed by water. These spillways were built in case of emergencies, and so far, they’ve only been used twice - the first time was to test the system back in 1941, and the second time was due to a flood in 1983.

The workers

There were 21,000 men who worked at the dam, making it about 5,000 a day. Officials had promised to ensure that African Americans were hired, but there were a small number of them. Veterans of the Spanish-American war were marked priority for employment. A small number of Native Americans were hired for one specific job - high scalers, suspending from ropes to remove loose rocks from the canyon walls.

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Photo courtesy of: native worker / WikiMedia Commons

Long hours, hard and dangerous work, and they were compensated with .50 cents to $1.25 per hour - this was a very good wage at that time (considering amidst the Great Depression).

A myth

Word was passed on, that there were workers who were buried dead or alive in the concrete as it was poured throughout the construction. Though not exact evidence can prove it, there are quite a few common-sense reports that could have one contemplate this myth - apparently, if a body, which is essentially organic matter, were to be buried within the concrete, it would soon be very easy to form an air pocket in the concrete.

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Photo courtesy of: workers / WikiMedia Commons

Meaning, if an air pocket is formed, this would cause great damage to the dam’s structure entirely - causing instability within and throughout the entire dam structure. For instance, Montana’s Fort Peck Dam had eight bodies buried within the structure, and in 1936, a section of the dam broke loose. Now, a myth is not always false, but perhaps we can reconsider this one.

Amongst a heatwave

The building of the dam began in April of 1931, the peak of summer, and if you can imagine, the heat was not a joke - from 100 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Apart from working under these conditions, some of the workers were working on the tunnels of the dam during this period and those who had to go deep into the tunnels were working in an environment of about 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Photo courtesy of: hot tunnel / WikiMedia Commons

The difference was that there was very limited ventilation within the tunnels. There are reports that state these workers did suffer various occasions of heat strokes - quite obvious, it would seem hard not to.

 Lake Mead

Lake Mead is more than just a recreational area as the world has come to view it. It is a man-made reservoir of the famous Hoover Dam. It is a depository of all the melting snow from the high Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Way before its official creation, it was inhabited by Native Americans, when the Colorado River flowed freely. 

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Photo courtesy of: lake mead / flickr

It was only until the Hoover Dam that the water flow was controlled and redirected to supply the growth of the developing areas/states. There were previous structures by the early inhabitants that were submerged when Lake Mead was created.

The Bureau of Reclamation

In 1902, The Bureau of Reclamation was an agency that managed the development of federal dams and water irrigation systems with the 17 states west of the Mississippi River - created by Congress. The Reclamation has worked and built widely known projects to this date such as the Glen Canyon Dam, California Central Valley Project, Grand Coulee Dam, and of course the Hoover Dam.

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Photo courtesy of: bureau of reclamation / WikiMedia Commons

 Its main purpose was to organize and address the issues of water scarcity through improvements of water systems, water diversion, and storage.

The positives of the Hoover Dam

The positive impacts of the dam were mainly that it was a way to turn around the original distress of the people due to a crash in the stock market and the Great Depression. The Hoover Dam supplied the regions of Arizona, Nevada, California, and Mexico with water and irrigation, while also providing approximately 5,200 jobs within the Great Depression.

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Photo courtesy of: workers on a drilling rig / WikiMedia Commons

A time when any job was hard to come by. The dam appeared to be a life-saver for the whites - while the African Americans and minorities remained stagnant in the economy.

The promise, no longer a promise

The construction company, Six Companies Inc. which funded and took charge of Hoover Dam’s construction, had promised to give work to the African Americans within the first 1,000 men to be hired for the project. However, this promise was only to be broken. In 1931, the Colored Citizens Labor and Protective Services of Las Vegas noted that they had not held up to their promise - the officials argued that they didn’t hire African Americans due to the catastrophe it’d cause with the white workers. 

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Photo courtesy of: Boulder city / WikiMedia Commons

There was slight progress in 1933 when 24 African Americans were hired for the project - however, this was more of a humiliation. They were expected to travel 30 miles to work every day from Las Vegas to Arizona and back because they weren’t allowed to live in Boulder City.

The negative effects on Nature

Prior to the Hoover Dam, there was natural flooding in the Colorado River that was seen as disastrous, when in truth, it was the organic expression of nature. When the dam and Lake Mead were created, no water reached the heart of the river, closing the pathway that nature created. The river was home to various native fish including the Humpback chub, Bonytail chub, Razorback sucker, and the Colorado pikeminnow - they were soon reported to be endangered. 

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Photo courtesy of: colorado river before the dam /

Though there are various positives on the dam, there are various impacts this dam has come to have on the force of nature, with destroying the home of other species, blocking the stream of nutrients, and impeding the growth of nature’s ecosystem.

The Great Depression

The Great Depression was an economic collapse in the 1930s that lasted 10 years. This historical event seems to have various reasons for its cause, but it remains as one that hasn’t been fully comprehended.

The stock market deflated and caused terror amongst the people who’d been investing in stocks.

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Photo courtesy of: great depression bread lines / WikiMedia Commons

The Federal Reserve had raised interest rates that only led to a decrease in the money supply. The people were more than ever discouraged to invest and lend - some even hoarded their money in cash out of fear. Due to the high-interest rates, rigid and tight policies, that were placed by the Central Banks, there were major unemployment rates.

Hoover Dam impacts

The biggest impact the Hoover Dam had on society was the generation of jobs, as stated earlier. Hoover Dam was thought to take a lot longer than it did to be constructed. It not only gave water to regions that needed it, but it was also the source of building a new city for its workers and was used as propaganda for hope

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Photo courtesy of: hoover at night / WikiMedia Commons

Hoover Dam could not have been built without the various companies that joined together to fund it, nor the workers. In an unrecognized way, Hoover Dam was a subtle sign of prosperity and a route to positive change during the Great Depression.

 Boulder City

During the construction of the dam, Las Vegas hoped to attract industries that sought to settle in the vacant land, but they sought elsewhere due to the lack of power, water, and life in Las Vegas. Ray Layman Wilbur who was Secretary of the Interior at the time, announced that there would be a new city built for the workers, closer to the construction site - Boulder Canyon Federal Reservation soon became Boulder City.

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Photo courtesy of: boulder city / WikiMedia Commons

Boulder City was intended to provide the workers “a wholesome American community” with schools, department stores, a hospital, a recreation hall, and other amenities.

The details of Boulder City

Boulder City was situated about six miles from the dam - fairly near compared to the people who had to travel 30 miles to and from Vegas. There were 758 cottages for married men and their families, nine dormitories for single men. It is reported that men who stayed in the dormitories would pay $1.60 a day (their hourly wage would be .50 cents to $1.25) which included full meals and transportation to and from the construction site.

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Photo courtesy of: boulder city map / WikiMedia Commons

They had 20,000 pounds of meat shipped from Reno and soon a dairy farm of 200 cows that provided butter, milk, and cream.

Las Vegas

In 1931, soon after water and power were supplied in the region, no time was to be wasted. Forty buildings were announced to be built that year - small homes, warehouses, and offices, increasing the population to approximately 7,500. Money from the federal funds was invested in the construction of the new federal building in town, roads, and sewers - Las Vegas was growing.

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Photo courtesy of: las vegas during the 1930's / WikiMedia Commons

Las Vegas was the “less-luxurious” kind of town filled with brothels and bars. Vegas was still shuffling to help those who’d come to find work in the construction of the dam - the city had asked the U.S. government for funds to help hundreds of people who’d camp outside to go to work the next day.

 A pillbox in Arizona

The U.S. military had been warned that the Germans may pose a threat to the dam - seeking to attack at any given moment just two months after the Pearl Harbor invasion.
They had a confined-concrete-built structure called a pillbox, which was quite common as a safeguard post during wartime. During WWII, the U.S. built various pillboxes across the western states, but this one would be a lot less visible, situated on a bluff in Lake Mead and Hoover Dam.

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Photo courtesy of: hoover damn pillbox / flickr

To this day, the pillbox remains hidden amongst rocks and gravel. Apparently, no one had known who had built the pillbox - it was suspected that the military had, but after decades it was concluded that it was built by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1939 for the U.S. military and to protect potential invasions from “saboteurs”.


The Hoover Dam, as stated earlier, was intended to supply efficient electricity and serve as a water source for three southwestern states - one of them being California. Back in 2018, California announced bigger visions for utilizing the dam.

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Photo courtesy of: power lines / pixabay

The LA Department of Water and Power is addressing the problem with renewable energy because it is over-producing. meaning, customers are not using what is being produced by alternative energy sources since there is no storage system in place for the overflow. They have determined energy from the dam is more efficient.

Hydroelectric storage vision

The LA Department of Water and Power, as reported back in 2018, has reported a new vision of hydroelectric storage operated by the Hoover Dam to be able to “store” electricity” and utilize it when there is no sun (night time). For instance, when there is more than enough sun during the day, that extra power would push water to a higher elevation - water would then be used to generate electricity at sundown through a well-planned system.

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Photo courtesy of: hydroelectric generator / pixabay

The LA Department of Water and Power is recognizing that with a bigger population and more people requiring renewable resources and electricity, this would be the next step to take - acknowledging that the Hoover Dam holds higher potential than any other dam in California to bring this hydroelectric storage system to maximum potential.

The tallest dam once upon a time

The Hoover dam was recorded to be the highest dam in 1936. Now, even though it continues to be the most memorable and recognized dam in the world, it is recognized as the second tallest after being surpassed by the Oroville Dam based in Northern California in 1968 being about 770-feet-high. Then came the Jinping-I Dam in Liangshan, China in 2003 with a height of 1,001 feet.

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Photo courtesy of: hoover dam height / WikiMedia Commons

Regardless of these other two dams having surpassed the height of the Hoover Dam - Hoover Dam still remains a pioneer and a legend in the construction of dams.

Why was Black Canyon the Hoover Dam site

It was through extensive investigations a decade prior to the construction that Black Canyon would come to be settled on as the site where the Hoover Dam would be built.
One may not have imagined the number of factors that were to be considered for this vision.

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Photo courtesy of: black canyon / WikiMedia Commons

Some of the many aspects that were considered, explored, and investigated were drilling on possible sites, studies into materials to be used, topographic surveys, transportation of supplies from and to construction sites, etc. In 1924, Black Canyon was the location suggested by the bureau. The Black Canyon had a large capacity for a reservoir, a solid foundation, and depth, and it was accessible.

New deal

Various projects and programs presented during the Great Depression, intended to reestablish the economy, bringing abundance, prosperity, and faith to the people - the New Deal was created by President Roosevelt in 1933. He got the banks to close for four days straight, in order to stop the people from withdrawing their money. 

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Photo courtesy of: FDR / Picryl

The Roosevelt’s Banking Act was passed and only trustworthy banks reopened as people were inspired to place their money and trust back in the banks. The New Deal was reported to have funded the completion of the Hoover Dam amongst multiple others.

President Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, becoming the 32nd President of the U.S. When Roosevelt took office, one of his primary statements to the people was that the only thing to fear was fear itself. He wasted no time and began to take action, propelling a set of strategies to bring the economy back to stability. He was bold and committed.

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Photo courtesy of: FDR / WikiMedia Commons

He was known to have refined the federal government through the New Deal procedures, appointing more women into federal positions than any other president had previously done, brought multiple successful programs during the Great Depression, was heavily involved in the establishment of friendly relations during WWII, and created the Second New Deal amongst so much more. He was also the one to dedicate the Hoover Dam in 1935.

Germany’s assumed plot

In 1939, the U.S. government had suspected there was a plot of attacking the Hoover Dam, specifically the intake towers to cut supply to California’s aviation industry. U.S. officials had planted multiple ways in which the Germans could attempt their attack - they soon prohibited private boats to Black Canyon and some visitor restrictions to the Hoover Dam were announced. They also considered aerial attacks and arranged defensive support in this area, though they had not thought of underwater attacks.

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Photo courtesy of: plane over the dam / flickr

After the Pearl Harbor attack, Hoover Dam was closed to all visitors for the entire war period until 1945. There are many reports stating that Germans sought to invade Hoover via a submarine plot. However, no attack ever occurred and no evidence was present to affirm the German’s plot entirely. Reports mention that it would’ve been impossible to take a submarine from Europe to the target due to insufficient fuel.

What happens if we take away the dam?

Even though removing the Hoover Dam may be absolutely “out of the question” during these times, here are a few potentials we could ponder on:
The silt that is being blocked by the dam, would have passage to return to a river flow and reinforce the other bodies of water downstream and the Delta.
If the Hoover and other dams would be removed, then there would be a high possibility that the fish soon to be extinct may just have a chance of avoiding extinction itself and the indigenous culture would not be lost.

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Photo courtesy of: river flow / pixabay

Native American’s began depending on the U.S. government for sustenance and support as their lifestyles of gathering from nature soon were crushed - if the dams were to be removed, they may be able to re-establish their ancient ways.

 The Natives suffer after Hoover Dam

It appears that the Hoover Dam was a start, a turning point in society for the whites, and a down-turn for the Natives. Each may hold their own perspectives, but let’s take a look at one of the unacknowledged down-turns. When the Hoover Dam was built, many other dams were also in the process of construction. This was actually impeding the natural flow of nature and living for the Native Americans - they had no way of farming, foraging, or gathering their own food, which was their traditional way of a prosperous life.

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Photo courtesy of: natives in 1933 / WikiMedia Commons

They now were left to depend on the government, forcefully, receiving boxes of free “food” that would only come to be a virus itself to their present and future generations with refined sugars, canned vegetables, and legumes, chips, candy, etc. which was no real food at all. This was an introduction of disease to the Native Americans - a concept that they weren’t very familiar with.

Hoover Dam Bridge

The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge named after Mike O’Callaghan who was a former governor of Nevada and Pat Tillman who was a football player for the Arizona Cardinals who resigned to join the Army and was then killed in Afghanistan.

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Photo courtesy of: hoover damn bridge / WikiMedia Commons

The construction of the bridge began in 2003 and was finished in 2010 - being about 1,905 feet long and 850 feet high. Its purpose was to make a much safer and efficient route for the growing traffic connecting Arizona and Nevada.

Patrick Tillman

Honored and remembered for his will to serve, one of the most recognized bridges has been named after him. Tillman was born on November 6, 1976, in California. He was devoted, diligent, and persistent on the field and in his studies. In high school, he was told he was too small to play football, but he sure proved them wrong when he was recognized by ASU with a scholarship, receiving recognition for his achievements.

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Photo courtesy of: pat tillman / WikiMedia Commons

It was after the 9/11 incident that struck him to commit to a three-year term in the Army with his brother. Reports state that on April 22, 2004, after being ambushed, he was attempting to provide cover for his team and he lost his life due to friendly fire from his own team trying to escape. For his ultimate sacrifice, the bridge was named in part to his honor.

Mike O’Callaghan

Mike O’Callaghan was probably the most cherished governor of Nevada from 1971 to 1979. He was firm, had integrity, was loyal, and a man of the people. He never pretended to be more or less than any other and always sought the best in his colleagues and employees. 

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Photo courtesy of: Mike O’Callaghan / WikiMedia Commons

He doubled the hiring rate of women in authority positions during his years in office, provided rehabilitation for injured workers, and created the Nevada Housing Division which assisted residents of Nevada to easily get loans so they could buy their own houses. It is no wonder that he got the honor of having his name on the Hoover Dam bridge along with Tillman.

Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan

The Colorado River has suffered from a massive drought since the year 2000. This causes various problems since water is needed to keep producing hydropower. In 2017, the seven states of the Colorado Basin, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado were gathered to set drought contingency plans in place as soon as possible. 

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Photo courtesy of: colorado river / pixabay

In 2019, The Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan was submitted to Congress by all the seven states and within a month, it was signed. It was now up to the Department of Interior to set in motion efficient systems for the reservoirs (Lake Mead and Lake Powell).

Basin Storage

With the water storage of Lake Mead and Lake Powell combined, they hold about 50 million acre-feet capacity - about 80% of its entire storage capacity. The way this works is by storing water in the rainy season and using it in the dry season. However, the basins are still affected by the decreased amount of water flow in the dry seasons.

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Photo courtesy of: lake powell / pixabay

To this day, reports have concluded that the long-lasting drought has been due to climate change, but there are still assumptions there may be another cause. Overall, this could greatly impact the motion of not only dams, but a drastic change in agriculture, electricity, communities, farming, cities, etc., the initial purpose of the Hoover Dam was intended for.

Hoover Museum

Situated in Boulder City, Nevada, the Hoover Museum is free and suggested to visit before the Hoover Dam site, as it tells the story of the dam’s period in a more visual way and a lot more descriptive (visitors have stated). The museum is free but they do accept donations. It is small, within the Boulder City hotel, but very informative. 

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Photo courtesy of: boulder dam hotel / WikiMedia Commons

This building was actually built in 1933 for visitors who’d come to view the project during its progress - a much more encapsulating and back-in-time sort of environment. The museum holds photographs, diaries, three-dimensional items, and so much more, bringing to life the hearts of those that lived through the Hoover Dam construction and within the Great Depression.

Alabam - the man with the “oddest” job

An amazing fact that is probably not heard of too often, was that there was once a man who had one specific job during the construction of the Hoover Dam - cleaning the outhouses of the site that 7,000 workers used every day. It is most likely unheard of as it may not be the ideal “heroic” job, but he was very much so a hero - looking at pictures, one can’t help but see a proud man standing in his overalls, a fedora and gloves, with a broom and a band of various toilet paper rolls hanging around his chest.

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Photo courtesy of: Alabam / WikiMedia Commons

No one really knows the real name but it could be predicted that he was from Alabama - hence the nickname. He was a man in his 70s, and due to his age, he wasn’t allowed to work in construction, but he sure was part of the crew. Steven Liguori was appointed the job in 2007, to sculpt an 8-foot-tall Alabam in a corner in Boulder City, in remembrance of the least spoken crew member who deserved it.

Tourism in the 90s.

The first tour of the Hoover Dam took place in 1937. There was an average of 977 visitors in 1949 and it got its highest peak on Memorial day with 3,658 visitors.
In the 1990s, reports state that Hoover Dam tours would offer a 35-minute film and 15-minute presentation for free. Then in time, the tour in itself would cost $1 for adults, $.50 cents for seniors and the entrance was free for children under the age of 15.

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Photo courtesy of: side view / WikiMedia Commons

Tourism has changed over time due to the economy. The tour consisted of a guided walk through the entire tunnel as the story of the Hoover Dam, with artifacts, newspapers, a model of the Colorado River, and machinery that was used in construction. They also had souvenir shops, and options to dine in the area. Lastly, they offered wheelchairs and support for the hearing-impaired

Tourism now

Tourism nowadays is a bit more different with more options to consider and maybe a few setbacks, but that is for you to decide. The tour of the dam itself costs about $30 and the tour of the Powerplant is $15.

The Dam tour does not allow handicapped people, the film is only 10 minutes, which they must have cut from the 35-minute film from the old times, and a guided tour of the penstock pipe, the Powerplant (Nevada’s side only), and a slight stop at one of the tunnels, with an inclusion of the Visitors Center’s exhibit and a presentation of the Original Exhibit from the 1940s.

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Photo courtesy of: hoover dam visitor center / WikiMedia Commons

The Power plant guided tour which lasts 30 minutes, essentially is the same thing as the Dam guided tour, but shorter.

The mascot dog

During the time of the dam’s construction, there appeared a dog in Boulder City, who would come to be cherished as one of the crew, making his way around the construction site, becoming everyone’s companion. He was a puppy when he was first found and one crew member decided to take him to the construction site, where it would become part of his daily routine. 

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Photo courtesy of: nig memorial / WikiMedia Commons

He was named Nig. He became the famous mascot of the construction crew, making their work a bit more lively throughout the days, climbing ladders, going into the tunnels with the crew, making his rounds around the site. Even the head engineer loved him.

Unfortunately, on February 21, 1941, he was recalled sleeping under a truck when it ran over him - bringing his life to an end. The men helped gather funds to buy Nig a plaque as a sign of their love for him, to be placed next to the concrete crypt by the edge of the cliff, where he was buried.

Last note

There is no wonder why the Hoover Dam has been historically vivid since before its construction. It was a defining period of many emotions; hope, fear, disruption, and growth within the life of many. A dam that became a figure for reconstruction and a force of power that supplied many with not just water and electricity, but a supply of internal power to move forward. 

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Photo courtesy of: hoover dam / pixabay

Regardless of one’s personal views on the Hoover Dam - whether it was or wasn’t of much benefit for the long run, we can recognize that the intentions behind it (at least the ones publicly stated) were to help the deflated morale at the time. 

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