The Hoover Dam

On the Way to Las Vegas we stopped off for a visit to the Hoover Dam and I must say that Sandy really enjoyed searching for the dam parking place so that we could get to the dam restrooms before buying the dam tickets for the dam tour. A single look from me was probably enough to convey that while it was funny the first time it was not going to be tolerated throughout the remainder of the afternoon.

The dam, still one of the engineering marvels of the world, was originally conceived to control the flooding of the rich agricultural lands of Southern California and built during the depression years of 1931-35 at the behest of the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover. It is a great shame that such a visionary and much loved man should share a surname with the J Edgar of the FBI infamy. I wonder how many people have confused the two as I am ashamed to admit to doing. What an unfortunate legacy.

Of course the legacy of the construction itself is far greater, a glowing example of the great expansionist spirit, a monument to the “can do” mentality that “Made America Great”, drawing a poverty stricken workforce from all over the country. A white workforce. When the Federal Government decreed that more blacks be employed on the site a few were grudgingly given the lowest menial jobs but were not allowed to live in the nearby workers encampment and had to travel out from Las Vegas, thirty miles away. The employment of Mongolians, that is Chinese, workers was banned altogether. Paradoxically, many of the legendary High Scalers, the nerves-of-steel-boys who hung by cables over the canyon edge, were Native Americans. Far from being an elite occupation at the time it was the only work that they were likely to be offered but theirĀ achievementsĀ stand as a far greater monument than any Anasazi themed floor tiles.

The statistics churned out on the official tour are pretty mind numbing and readily available elsewhere (thanks to the internet) but reading about it doesn’t prepare you for actually seeing it and Scott, our guide, was full of interestingĀ titbits. The pictures can’t do it justice but I’ve done my best with them and Sandy and I were both pleased to tick off one of the important “sights” that neither of us had made it out here to see before.

Categories: North America


  • Chris says:

    Well, tell us some of the stories then

  • Nicola says:

    I’m afraid that like most visitors I probably remember the more gruesome ones best. For example: the last man to die on the site, construction worker Patrick Tierney, was the son of the very first, a surveyor who drowned in the Colorado river during the earliest stages of the project. Apparently, far more people died on the Arizona side of the construction but that may have had something to do with the fact that death benefits were considerably higher over there and sympathetic colleagues were trying to help out. The official figure of 112 deaths is considered far too low as it excluded any that could possibly be classified as “other causes” such as carbon monoxide poisoning or heat exhaustion. And, as if all this historic morbidity isn’t enough, the brand new bridge is attracting a whole new cadre of suicideers.

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