Unveiling the Fascinating History and Facts Behind Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam is one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States, attracting millions of visitors annually. It is an engineering marvel that showcases the ingenuity and skill of American engineers. The dam was constructed during the Great Depression and provided much-needed jobs to thousands of Americans.
This blog will discuss 11 interesting facts about Hoover Dam that you might not know.
Objectives and Achievements of Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam was built with several objectives in mind. In addition to providing hydroelectric power to the surrounding communities, it was constructed to address the issue of flooding along the Colorado River as it flowed through the southwestern region to the Gulf of California.
Moreover, with population growth and settlement in the west, there was an increased demand for water, and the dam was designed to redirect the water to areas it would not have naturally reached. To this day, Hoover Dam continues to generate hydroelectric power, a feat it has achieved since 1936.
The Naming of Hoover Dam
Initially, the dam that we now know as Hoover Dam was referred to as Boulder Dam due to its original intended location in Boulder Canyon. However, the construction site was later shifted to Black Canyon, but the name Boulder Dam persisted.
The name Hoover Dam came about in 1930 when a railroad line was built to reach the site, and during its groundbreaking ceremony, it was revealed that the dam would be named after then-president Herbert Hoover.
Creation of Boulder City
The construction of Hoover Dam led to the creation of an entire city. Before the project, Boulder City in Nevada did not exist. It was built in 1930 to accommodate the 5,000 workers employed to build the dam.
The city was built on federal land, so it had no local mayor or elected officials. A U.S. Bureau of Reclamation employee managed the entire city and could implement rules as deemed necessary. Interestingly, some of Boulder City’s initial regulations prohibited gambling and the consumption of alcohol. It took thirty years, until 1960, for the federal government to relinquish control, and Boulder City was officially incorporated.
The Number of Deaths
During the five years of Hoover Dam’s construction from 1931 to 1936, numerous accidents and illnesses resulted in the death of 138 workers. Reports from the site attribute 96 deaths to accidents and an additional 42 to illnesses.
Some historians speculate that carbon monoxide exposure in construction tunnels may have caused some deaths previously attributed to illness. Despite rumors to the contrary, no one was buried alive during the pouring of the 4.3 million yards of concrete.
At the construction’s peak, approximately 5,200 men worked on the dam daily, with about 21,000 men contributing to the project overall. Wages were significantly lower, with workers earning an hourly wage ranging from 50 cents to $1.25.
Location of Hoover Dam Headquarters
Las Vegas competed to become the location for the headquarters of the Hoover Dam project. However, its reputation as a party town posed a problem. In 1929, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior visited Las Vegas, and the city’s mayor attempted to clean up the town’s image by shutting down brothels and speakeasies.
Despite these efforts, Boulder City was ultimately chosen as the headquarters and residential site for the workers building the Hoover Dam.
Winning the Contract for Hoover Dam Construction
Multiple investors vied for the opportunity to construct the Hoover Dam. However, due to the project’s massive size, no single contractor had enough funds to meet the requirements for the bid.
As a result, a consortium of construction companies was formed, named “Six Companies,” and they submitted a bid for the project. Their bid of US$48,890,955 was successful, and they won the contract, beating the next closest bidder by $5,000,000.
Tourist Attraction: Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam visit is a must-do for tourists, as it is a popular destination that attracts millions of visitors annually. Considered one of the seven wonders of modern engineering, Hoover Dam was once the tallest dam in the world. During the hoover dam tour, tourists can visit the tunnels & even ride the original elevator to the top.
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Unbelievable Amount of Concrete Used for Hoover Dam Construction
The construction of the Hoover Dam required an enormous amount of concrete. The Bureau of Reclamation financed the project and provided 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete for the dam and another 1.11 million cubic yards for the power plant and related facilities.
This amount of concrete would be sufficient to construct a highway spanning 3000 miles from one end of the United States to the other. To put this in perspective, the Bureau used almost as much cement during the dam’s construction – about 5 million barrels – as it had in the previous 27 years.
Refrigeration Machine Used in the Construction of the Hoover Dam
An engineering team designed a gigantic refrigeration machine to prevent the massive blocks of concrete used for the Hoover Dam from cracking due to gradual drying. Without this intervention, the concrete would have taken 125 years to cool. The machine, the largest refrigerator in the world at the time, dispensed over 1000 tons of ice daily, significantly reducing the cooling time and allowing the project to be completed much faster.
Absence of President Hoover at the Hoover Dam Dedication
Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States, was not invited to the dedication of the Hoover Dam. This was likely due to his negative opinions, not only by Interior Secretary Harold Ickes but also by his successor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the dedication ceremony in 1935, Roosevelt did not extend an invitation to Hoover or mention him in his speech.
Nazi Plot to Bomb the Hoover Dam
In 1939, two German Nazi agents planned to bomb the Hoover Dam and its power facilities to hamper its energy production and undercut California’s aviation manufacturing industry. However, the destruction of the dam itself was not their central goal.
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The United States government learned of their scheme and increased military security around the dam. The authorities even considered camouflaging the dam with a paint job or building a decoy dam downstream from the real one. The Germans only conducted onsite investigative work before their ploy was thwarted.
Visiting Hoover Dam is an unforgettable experience that combines engineering marvel, natural beauty, and a glimpse into the past. Hoover Dam tours offer the opportunity to explore the tunnels and powerplant and learn about the dam’s fascinating history and impressive technical specifications.
From its towering height and massive weight to the innovative technology and intricate design, Hoover Dam facts continue to awe and inspire visitors worldwide. Whether you are a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or simply looking for a unique adventure, visiting Hoover Dam is a must-do activity.
So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on an exciting journey to this iconic landmark.