The Hoover Dam (Building America: Then and Now)
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The Hoover Dam is recognized as one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern world. The construction of this behemoth dam - the inspiration of one Arthur Powell Davis - was an incredible feat on many levels. Years-long political disputes had to be settled. Individuals and companies in the engineering and construction realms had to bond together to form a single company capable of taking on such a groundbreaking project. Thousands of workers from around the country flocked to the project to flee the poverty of the Great Depression. Roads, houses, and electricity had to be built and installed in the untouched environment of Black Canyon. Then, with almost unbelievable speed, the Hoover Dam rose from the dry dust of the western United States to become one of the most incredible engineering accomplishments in history.
was good at his work. Among his achievements was taking a ragtag bunch of unemployed men and turning them into worldclass builders. CONDITIONS ON THE JOB Once initial work began in the Arizona and Nevada deserts, conditions proved harsh. Summer temperatures often soared to 120°F 17192_BAT&N_Hoover_all_4p.e.indd56 56 11/18/08 8:38:33 AM The People Who Built Hoover Dam (48.9°), and winter temperatures could plummet to the freezing point and below. Regardless of the temperature, the men had to
that could only be spent in the Six Companies store in Boulder City. Workers could spend scrip on anything from food to new clothes. 17192_BAT&N_Hoover_all_4p.e.indd63 63 11/18/08 8:38:38 AM 64 THE HOOVER DAM problems with racial tension at other job sites. They cited as an example one nearly violent incident in which a Mexican foreman had been put in charge of a white crew. Pressure to hire African-American workers continued to mount. Eventually, Six Companies president William Bechtel said
March 1997, people from 20 countries including Argentina, Chile, China, India, Russia, Thailand, and the United States gathered in Curitiba, Brazil, for the First International Meeting of People Affected by Dams. On March 14, they made a declaration “affi rming the right to life and livelihood of people affected by dams.” The fi rst few paragraphs of the declaration read as follows: We, the people from 20 countries gathered in Curitiba, Brazil, representing organizations of dam-affected people
landholders, agribusiness corporations and speculators. They have dispossessed small farmers; rural workers; fishers; tribal, indigenous and traditional communities. The World Commission on Dams In response to the increasing debate on dams— especially large ones—a commission of 12 members was established in February 1998. The World Commission on Dams had two main goals. 17192_BAT&N_Hoover_all_4p.e.indd89 89 11/18/08 8:39:08 AM 90 THE HOOVER DAM Holding back the waters of the newly formed
reservoir water caused a landslide. The spillage into the reservoir in turn caused a great wave of water to rush over the dam wall into the valley below. It was a testament to the dam’s strength and construction that, in a flood of water that killed more than 2,000 individuals and ruined several villages, the dam itself remained remarkably intact and was kept in use until 1977. teton dam In 1976, the Teton Dam—an earthfi ll embankment dam in Idaho—had just been built, and the dam’s reservoir was