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Monday, July 8, 2013

Celebrating the Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam
April 2012
On July 7, 1930, construction of the Hoover Dam began. Originally known as the Boulder Dam, it was renamed in honor of our 31st president, Herbert Hoover in 1947.

Here are some photos my daughter took on her visit there last spring.

The concrete arch structure of the dam was built to take advantage of gravity. It was intended to prevent flooding as well as to provide irrigation and hydroelectric power to some of the driest regions of states such as California and Arizona.

The dam stands 726 feet high and is 1,244 feet long. Hoover Dam was one of the largest man-made structures in the world at the time of its construction.

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Arthur Powell Davis drew up plans for this ambitious dam-building project in 1922. Davis was head of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (the federal agency given responsibility for irrigation in the West).

Out of two prospective places for the dam, Black Canyon was chosen over Boulder Canyon. Even so, for some reason the planners continued to call the project Boulder Dam.

Several western states all competed for claims on the Black Canyon River. At the time, Herbert Hoover was U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Even with Hoover's exuberant backing and a regional consensus around the need to build the dam, Congressional approval and individual state cooperation were slow in coming.

Hoover finally  negotiated the Colorado River Compact, which divided the river basin into two regions — lower (Arizona, Nevada and California) and upper (Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado) — that would help to resolve the political claims on the river and make the building of the dam possible.
Hoover Dam
Here are some additional statistics:
  • More than 200 engineers worked to design the dam.
  • It was the largest building project that the federal government had ever undertaken.
  • 21,000 men worked on building the dam over the course of its construction (around 5,000 at any one time).
  • The dam weighs more than 6.6 million tons.
  • At its base, the maximum water pressure is 45,000 pounds per square foot.
  • The building of the dam created Lake Mead, which extends for 550 miles of shoreline. 
  • Lake Mead is 247 miles in area, and is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world.
  • A National Historic Landmark, Hoover Dam draws over 7 million tourists a year.
  • 10 million visitors head to Lake Mead each year for boating, sailing, fishing, etc.
Read more about the Hoover Dam at and This Day in History.

Have you visited Lake Mead or the Hoover Dam?

Tell us about your experience and your impressions of the area by clicking on the word "Comment" below.

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