Hoover Dam The Hoover Dam The Hoover Dam, which stands at 726 feet, was the worlds tallest dam at the time of it completion in 1935. It took just four years (1931-1935) to build this massive structure. Although larger dams have been built it still ranks as one of the tallest. The dam is located between Nevada and Arizona along the Colorado River. This massive dam was the idea of President Herbert Hoover.
The structures name was changed from Boulder Dam to the Hoover Dam in honor of him. The need for a dam had been seen for over two decades, so in the early 1920s site testing began for this great project. Many thought that by controlling the Colorado River they could provide hydroelectric power to many areas out west. This added power was needed due to the extreme growth of Las Vegas and Southern California. Many bids were made on the price of the dam, but in the end it was the Six Companies Inc.
who won the project. They estimated the dam to cost $48,890,955. Although they were anxious to start construction it could not be done until transportation to and from the site was established. Thus the first project was to lay roads and railroads to transport the many materials to the site. The next step was to reroute the Colorado River until the dam could be completed.
Six Companies built four tunnels through Black Canyon, and then lined these tunnels with concrete. A temporary dam was then constructed to push the river into these tunnels. After the river was moved out of the way special men called high scalers were called in. The men chosen for this job came from all different types of backgrounds, but all had the same thing in common: they were agile and unafraid to swing out over empty space with only a slender rope holding them up. This work was some of the hardest and most dangerous work on the project. The men would descend into the canyon with only small tools and a water bag.
Next jackhammers, that weighed 44 pounds, would be lowered to them. They would then take the jackhammer drill a hole in the side of the canyon, load the hole up with dynamite, and move to the next spot. After enough holes were drilled the dynamite was blown. The men would usually have to go back down with a crowbar to loosen some of the broken rocks. Moving around the cliffs could be very dangerous.
The walls were cluttered with air hoses, electrical lines, tools, falling rock, and ropes from other scalers. Though the men were very careful, when it came to work, the most common cause of death was being hit from fallen rock. The men began to come up with ways of protecting themselves from these accidental deaths. One of the easiest ways was to make a hard-boiled hat. These hats were simply made by coating a cloth hat in coal tar.
They worked so well that when some men were hit on the head by falling rocks they suffered a crushed jaw rather than a cracked skull. The risk of death was even reduced more when Six Companies ordered commercially made hard hats. Even though the work was hard and dangerous the workers tried to have some fun. When the boss wasnt looking some of the men were known to swing out over the canyon and perform a trick for the guys below. There were even contest held to see who could swing the highest, farthest, or who could do the best stunt. Once the high scalers were done clearing the way the builders were ready for the concrete to be poured.
This normally would not have been that big of a deal but, with a structure as large as the Hoover Dam the concrete could take a long time to cool. Then once it was cool the dam could crack, making it useless. So, to avoid this, engineers had the dam poured in rows and columns of blocks. They then had refrigerated water pumped through the blocks in pipes, and the pipes were then filled with concrete. This process made the dam essentially one large piece. The entire structure was completed two years ahead of schedule, and power generation began in 1936.
Then up until 1961 more turbines were added to help gain more power. The Hoover Dam serves many purposes, such as: flood control, improvement of navigation and regulation of the Colorado River, and hydroelectric power production. The dam also helps in irrigating more than one million acres of land in the United States and almost half a million in Mexico. Because of the dam many people in the southwestern states receive water. The Hoover Dam generates more than 4 billion kilowatt-hours a year, which is enough power to serve 1.3 million people. Hoover is still today one of the countrys largest power suppliers.
The total cost of the Hoover Dam was $165 million. This has now all been repaid to the Federal Treasury through the power the dam generates. This was exactly what President Hoover had envisioned, a dam that would be self-supporting, financed entirely through the sale of its hydroelectric power. History Reports.