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PHOTOS: Look back at Hoover Dam construction in photos

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On July 7, 1930, construction of the Hoover Dam, originally called the Boulder Dam, began in Black Canyon on the Colorado River on the border of Nevada and Arizona. The massive construction that employed 21,000 men throughout the project took place during the Great Depression. Congress renamed the dam after President Herbert Hoover in 1947. Look back at the process in photos.
Secretary Ray Lyman Wilbur drives the last spike into the railroad leading from Las Vegas, Nevada to the site of the Hoover Dam, better known as the Boulder Dam, on Sept. 19, 1930. The spike, made of silver, signalized actual beginning of construction on the $165,000,000 project. Left to right: Congressman William Eaton, of Colorado; Senator Key Pittman, Nevada; Secretary Wilbur, and left Senator Samuel Shortridge.
Secretary Ray Lyman Wilbur drives the last spike into the railroad leading from Las Vegas, Nevada to the site of the Hoover Dam, better known as the Boulder Dam, on Sept. 19, 1930. The spike, made of silver, signalized actual beginning of construction on the $165,000,000 project. Left to right: Congressman William Eaton, of Colorado; Senator Key Pittman, Nevada; Secretary Wilbur, and left Senator Samuel Shortridge.
Huge crowds attended the ceremonies at Las Vegas, Nevada on Sept. 17, 1930, starting actual work on the Hoover Dam. Secretary Ray Lyman Wilbur gave the principal address. Announcing the change of name from Boulder Dam to Hoover Dam, in honor of the President. Secretary Wilbur Drove a silver spike into the last tie of the road connecting Las Vegas with the dam site.
Huge crowds attended the ceremonies at Las Vegas, Nevada on Sept. 17, 1930, starting actual work on the Hoover Dam. Secretary Ray Lyman Wilbur gave the principal address. Announcing the change of name from Boulder Dam to Hoover Dam, in honor of the President. Secretary Wilbur Drove a silver spike into the last tie of the road connecting Las Vegas with the dam site.
These few tent-houses, now sheltering 35 surveyors, are located on the site of the unnamed city which soon will grow large enough to house the thousands of men who will work on the Boulder Canyon dam, a huge Colorado River flood control and hydro-electric project undertaken by the U.S. government, shown Sept. 13, 1930. The unnamed city is located near Las Vegas, Nevada on the brink of the Black Canyon.
These few tent-houses, now sheltering 35 surveyors, are located on the site of the unnamed city which soon will grow large enough to house the thousands of men who will work on the Boulder Canyon dam, a huge Colorado River flood control and hydro-electric project undertaken by the U.S. government, shown Sept. 13, 1930. The unnamed city is located near Las Vegas, Nevada on the brink of the Black Canyon.
Construction continues on Jan. 9, 1932, as workers construct the retaining wall that gives support to the road leading over the top of Hoover Dam. Labor troubles were experienced during the huge engineering project on the Colorado River near Las Vegas, Nevada.
Construction continues on Jan. 9, 1932, as workers construct the retaining wall that gives support to the road leading over the top of Hoover Dam. Labor troubles were experienced during the huge engineering project on the Colorado River near Las Vegas, Nevada.
This photograph was made from the Nevada side of the river, and shows some of the blasting operations in progress, on Aug. 24, 1932, in Nevada. Some idea of the difficulties of the operations may be gained from this view of the rock cliffs.
This photograph was made from the Nevada side of the river, and shows some of the blasting operations in progress, on Aug. 24, 1932, in Nevada. Some idea of the difficulties of the operations may be gained from this view of the rock cliffs.
Construction of the Hoover Dam continues, a constant stream of large trucks dumping fifty tons of soil a minute, built an earth fill dam across the Colorado River, forcing its turbulent waters into two fifty-foot diversion tunnels on the Arizona canyon wall on Nov. 15, 1932.
Construction of the Hoover Dam continues, a constant stream of large trucks dumping fifty tons of soil a minute, built an earth fill dam across the Colorado River, forcing its turbulent waters into two fifty-foot diversion tunnels on the Arizona canyon wall on Nov. 15, 1932.
A lake covering 227 miles will form the 30,500,000 acre foot reservoir from the Hoover Dam when completed. Elmer L. Chapman, junior reclamation service engineer, points to the hills which will be submerged after the completion of the project in Nevada on Aug. 24, 1932. The flat top lone mountain in the center of the photograph will be an island 14 feet above water.
A lake covering 227 miles will form the 30,500,000 acre foot reservoir from the Hoover Dam when completed. Elmer L. Chapman, junior reclamation service engineer, points to the hills which will be submerged after the completion of the project in Nevada on Aug. 24, 1932. The flat top lone mountain in the center of the photograph will be an island 14 feet above water.
This general view of Black Canyon on the Colorado River, looking upstream toward the site of Hoover Dam, shows a temporary steel suspension bridge in the foreground and portals of the 56-inch diversion tunnel bores which will carry the river water while the dam is under construction on March 12, 1932. The dam will be in Black Canyon, despite the fact that it is generally known as the Boulder Canyon Project.
This general view of Black Canyon on the Colorado River, looking upstream toward the site of Hoover Dam, shows a temporary steel suspension bridge in the foreground and portals of the 56-inch diversion tunnel bores which will carry the river water while the dam is under construction on March 12, 1932. The dam will be in Black Canyon, despite the fact that it is generally known as the Boulder Canyon Project.
This is Main Street in Boulder City, Nevada on Aug. 24, 1932, the model construction housing center for the workers on the huge Hoover Dam project. This city was constructed at a cost of $2,000,000.
This is Main Street in Boulder City, Nevada on Aug. 24, 1932, the model construction housing center for the workers on the huge Hoover Dam project. This city was constructed at a cost of $2,000,000.
Looking down on the Hoover Dam site, the parapet is directly over the power plant site, and also part of the Nevada-Arizona highway which will traverse the dam, shown on Aug. 24, 1932. Beyond this will be the greatest lake ever created by man.
Looking down on the Hoover Dam site, the parapet is directly over the power plant site, and also part of the Nevada-Arizona highway which will traverse the dam, shown on Aug. 24, 1932. Beyond this will be the greatest lake ever created by man.
In this U.S. Bureau of Reclamation photo, construction gangs on the great Boulder Dam, who work night and day, have pushed past the half-way mark, months ahead of schedule, circa 1930s.
In this U.S. Bureau of Reclamation photo, construction gangs on the great Boulder Dam, who work night and day, have pushed past the half-way mark, months ahead of schedule, circa 1930s.
Inside of diversion tunnel no. 3, on the boulder dam project, showing concreting operations, on July 9, 1934. The intersection of the inclined tunnel from the intake tower (above) with the present diversion which is being plugged. These tunnels will carry the 30-foot diameter steel penstocks for the power system. Photo by bureau of reclamation.
Inside of diversion tunnel no. 3, on the boulder dam project, showing concreting operations, on July 9, 1934. The intersection of the inclined tunnel from the intake tower (above) with the present diversion which is being plugged. These tunnels will carry the 30-foot diameter steel penstocks for the power system. Photo by bureau of reclamation.
The Boulder Dam, in Black Canyon of the Colorado River, is nearing completion, this view showing 500 of its projected 730 feet above the canyon floor on Aug. 28, 1934. The federal reclamation service, directing the construction, says the dam, now 80% completed will be finished next April, a full year ahead of schedule.
The Boulder Dam, in Black Canyon of the Colorado River, is nearing completion, this view showing 500 of its projected 730 feet above the canyon floor on Aug. 28, 1934. The federal reclamation service, directing the construction, says the dam, now 80% completed will be finished next April, a full year ahead of schedule.
A view of the huge Boulder Dam operation from a high point on the Nevada rim of the Black Canyon, shown on Sept. 11, 1934. The immensity of the project can be seen from this picture.
A view of the huge Boulder Dam operation from a high point on the Nevada rim of the Black Canyon, shown on Sept. 11, 1934. The immensity of the project can be seen from this picture.
A three million pound gate of tunnel no. 4, shown above at left, was ready to close on Feb. 1, 1935, stopping flow of the Colorado River at the Boulder Dam, thus starting to fill a huge reservoir. The above photo taken just before the gate started closing shows a coffer dam built across the entrance of tunnel no. 3, which has been diverting the river through the canyon walls and around the dam on the Arizona side.
A three million pound gate of tunnel no. 4, shown above at left, was ready to close on Feb. 1, 1935, stopping flow of the Colorado River at the Boulder Dam, thus starting to fill a huge reservoir. The above photo taken just before the gate started closing shows a coffer dam built across the entrance of tunnel no. 3, which has been diverting the river through the canyon walls and around the dam on the Arizona side.
The Boulder Dam on the Colorado River is shown under construction. A cable railway runs over it.
The Boulder Dam on the Colorado River is shown under construction. A cable railway runs over it.
This huge electric switch, which will be able to shut on or off 3,000,000 horse-power of electricity in 1/20 of a second has been installed in Los Angeles on Jan. 18, 1936, in preparation for the receipt of power from Boulder Dam.
This huge electric switch, which will be able to shut on or off 3,000,000 horse-power of electricity in 1/20 of a second has been installed in Los Angeles on Jan. 18, 1936, in preparation for the receipt of power from Boulder Dam.
Aerial view of the Hoover (Boulder) Dam on the Colorado River on Dec. 11, 1948.
Aerial view of the Hoover (Boulder) Dam on the Colorado River on Dec. 11, 1948.
The mighty Hoover Dam impresses a young Swiss couple making their first tour of United States on their scooter on April 9, 1954, in Nevada. Natives of Zurich, Fred and Beatrice Troller were veteran scooter travelers in Europe before coming here.
The mighty Hoover Dam impresses a young Swiss couple making their first tour of United States on their scooter on April 9, 1954, in Nevada. Natives of Zurich, Fred and Beatrice Troller were veteran scooter travelers in Europe before coming here.
Hoover Dam (above) at 726 feet is the highest dam in this hemisphere, shown on May 27, 1960, will be 25 years old tomorrow. The huge concrete wall blocks Black Canyon and the Colorado River. Nevada is on one flank, Arizona the other. Total construction costs have been about $175 million, but government officials say it has doubtless repaid its cost many times by preventing property losses from flood.
Hoover Dam (above) at 726 feet is the highest dam in this hemisphere, shown on May 27, 1960, will be 25 years old tomorrow. The huge concrete wall blocks Black Canyon and the Colorado River. Nevada is on one flank, Arizona the other. Total construction costs have been about $175 million, but government officials say it has doubtless repaid its cost many times by preventing property losses from flood.
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