Hoover Dam

September 19, 2010 by  

Hoover Dam, The word “dam” is not a dirty word, not when we are talking about a certain giant concrete structure that is having its diamond anniversary. Susan Spencer reports for 48 Hours.

More than a million people visit the remote desert on the border between Arizona and Nevada each year to “Look!” and “Ahh!” in a wonderful 75 years of age, engineering, the majestic Hoover Dam.

They have all seen the photos but not the same.

A child cried out, “Chico! Is Humungous!”

In 726 meters, which would tower over the Washington Monument. The concrete is sufficient to open a road from New York to San Francisco, and enough to build a sidewalk around Ecuador.

That’s what it took to stop the mighty Colorado River dry.

Regarding environmental concerns, Michael Hiltzik, author of “Colossus”, a new history of Hoover Dam, said conservation had a different meaning then. It meant no resource protection, but their exploitation.

After all, the region had suffered devastating floods and droughts and the Western power and water needed for developing cities. Thus, in 1931, when Herbert Hoover was president, began construction. The issue was not we build the dam, but we rather?

“It was well known that this would be possibly the most ambitious project engineers had never encountered. The builders had to invent construction techniques. They had to invent equipment. It was a dam that had to be invented, as it going, “Hiltzik said.

Let no one be discouraged. It was the depression. Bread lines were growing. People were desperate. The dam work involved.

Thousands came. Soon, an entire people – Boulder City – stood nearby.

In their zeal, many workers discovered that he had underestimated both the risks of labor and misery of the desert sun.

“It was like working in a blast furnace,” Hiltzik said. “In that first summer murder, which had dozens and dozens of men kneeling on heat stroke and die for what contractors called” natural causes. ”

In 1981, several former employees spoke with a documentary crew.
“I saw 145 degrees down there in that canyon without air circulation. If I had a little breeze, then you would get maybe even 130 or 125,” said a former employee.

Officially, 96 men died building the dam. Unofficially, nobody really knows.

In men deep tunnels sick by inhaling carbon monoxide from truck exhaust … while above the lives of workers canyon floor literally hanging by a thread …

“They were known as the” climbing high “and are chipping away. They drill holes for dynamite.’re Placing dynamite – boom! And they are doing in the air. Some of them got a reputation as being real acrobats . And people came to the top of the walls to watch them, “Hiltzik said.

The project was completed in 1935 by more than $ 100 million, equivalent to a quarter of the country’s annual budget for public works at the time. Franklin Roosevelt was presented to dedicate it.

Its official name was Boulder Dam, the Democrats have stripped power from Hoover Republican right in her name.

“Hoover, of course is out of the office. Not only was not invited, he had asked to be invited. It was a full day of the ceremony – many, many speeches, many, including a speech by the president, and name Herbert Hoover was not mentioned even once, “Hiltzik said.

It would take 14 years – and a Republican Congress – to change the name of Hoover Dam. By then he had begun his career in cinema long story, Hitchcock, “Saboteur” in 1942, “Transformers” a few years ago.

And in between, in 1964 “Viva Las Vegas”, Ann Margaret and Elvis flew over him. In “National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation” Chevy Chase rose above it. In “Superman,” which broke the bad guys and the Super A re-assembled.

And now AT & T is draped in orange.

Ken Rice, who manages the dam, believed to understand the appeal.

“I believe that success. Power. I mean, look at Hoover Dam, 75 years doing what we’ve been doing for 75 years, storage of that water, that water and deliver the power that created you knows what a success story, “said Rice.

It appreciates its beauty as well: clean Art Deco lines, amazing sculptures, Italian tile floors, bright turbines.

The dam now provides vital power for more than a million people and water for about 20 million dollars, but at a cost. Drought, population growth, increased demand for water and other projects have reduced the once mighty Colorado to a trickle when it reaches the sea. wildlife habitats – perhaps all species – had been lost.

Even the most fanatical fans admit that the dam will probably not be built today, but they insist that it was on the right – and remarkable – to build below.

“Tthe expectation that these people had to build this structure in the 30s, to take advantage of Colorado, was incredible at that point in time that people could even think of that,” said Rice.

“It is the highest dam and the dam is not bigger, but its got a grace and power that makes people really … really seizes the imagination. The simple lines that have – you know the artistic beauty of the design is really something unique, Hiltzik said.

The future of the dam appears secure. His birthday will be a new bridge over the canyon, a perfect vantage point from which to shout the obvious: Hot dam! And Happy Birthday.

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