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Hoover Dam Fatalities: How Many People Died Building It?

One of the world’s engineering wonders is the Hoover Dam. Despite being close to 100 years old, it still provides clean hydroelectric power and water to the Southwest of the United States through the Lake Mead reservoir it impounds. But building it cost a lot of money. The project’s building costs eventually covered themselves, but the cost in human lives lost will never be made up. This article will discuss the construction of the dam, its significance to the Southwest economy, and the number of fatalities that occurred while it was being built.

Major Points

  • Hoover Dam was built with the goal of reducing Colorado River flooding and helping to stabilize the supply of water and electricity for the American Southwest.
  • 21,000 individuals had jobs thanks to it at the worst of the Great Depression.
  • Although the project was extremely expensive for its time, it was finally paid for in 50 years by the sale of energy.
  • Sadly, around 100 people perished while building the dam, but not in some of the horrifying ways that have been rumored.
  • They gave up so that 1.3 million people may have access to electricity.
  • Agriculture uses 70% of the water from Lake Meade, but the lake is drying up as a result of numerous years of drought.
  • The dam and lake, which are currently visited by about 1 million people annually and are about an hour’s drive from Las Vegas,

Why Was Hoover Dam Constructed?

Up to the 1929 stock market crash, the American economy was booming and people were making money by the bucketful. Industrialists were hard at work building the country’s infrastructure, including railroads, ports, and energy facilities, in order to profit from the development of its resources. Some of them focused on the Colorado River, which provided significant amounts of water to the states of Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico. However, it could be erratic, passing through periods of dryness followed by ferocious flash floods.

Engineers could retain water during intense downpours for regular, measured release during dry seasons by building a dam with a sizable reservoir. Additionally, a dam may harness the energy of water that is dropping quickly to run electric generators that would supply energy to homes and businesses in developing areas like Las Vegas. The decision was made that building the dam where the river forms the border between Arizona and Nevada would be the best option both geologically and in terms of distributing the project’s benefits to the greatest number of people, including those in densely populated Southern California.

When Was Hoover Dam Built?

Although the federal government announced plans to build the dam in 1922, the project didn’t actually receive approval until 1928, and work didn’t start until 1931. As a result, the project began during some of the worst times of the Great Depression, when a large number of people were out of work and searching for any type of job, no matter how filthy or risky it could be. People were willing to work on this project because it was a public works project, notwithstanding any allegations that construction workers had died at the Hoover Dam.

The dam’s namesake, Herbert Hoover, served as President from 1929 to 1933. The Dam wasn’t completely finished when it was consecrated by his successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, until the following year. The project’s total construction cost was $49 million, or $760 million in today’s money. The power plant and generators added additional $71 million to the cost. Although it cost a lot of money, Hoover Dam’s power generation income allowed it to cover its construction expenses fifty years after it was built, in 1987. The dam was essentially set free at the end. least in terms of money.

Hoover Dam Deaths

Hoover Dam’s human cost cannot be quantified in money terms or accurately expressed through numbers. About 21,000 people were employed by the project, and they needed to be housed, nourished, and entertained. In essence, it necessitated creating Boulder, Nevada, a brand-new settlement that is still in existence today. A hospital was present in the community to handle worker diseases and injuries. The project managers took safety measures, such as using “high scalers” to sweep the cliffs on either side of the construction site for any loose rock that might fall on employees and remove it.

Around 96 persons lost their lives in construction-related accidents while working on the project, despite all safety procedures. Contrary to a common misconception, none of these fatalities were caused by individuals falling into the dam’s pouring cement. Was what they gave up worthwhile? These workers left behind a monument that has had a beneficial influence on the lives of millions of people in subsequent generations, in addition to providing for their families’ needs so that they could survive one of the darkest times in our nation’s history. Watch to see how.

Hoover Dam: How Big is It?

First of all, the laborers left a monumental legacy of human creativity that, according to academics, might last for 10,000 years. Almost like the “great pyramid” of our culture. It is roughly twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty and its pedestal at 726 feet. The top of the dam, where it is the thinnest, is 45 feet wide. As wide as a four-lane highway, this is. But at its base, it is a staggering 660 feet thick, or roughly two football fields long! 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete were used in its construction. The driveways of nearly 200,000 suburban homes might be paved with that amount!

Engineers made the dam bent, like an arch turned on its side, to strengthen it. Roman aqueducts and public structures featured arches, and medieval cathedral designers utilized them in flying buttresses to sustain the weight of their thin walls and large windows. The genius of an arch is how it disperses the weight from the top to the bottom supports and finally to the earth. Therefore, Hoover Dam’s curving shape directs the enormous pressure of the dam’s structure and the enormous volume of water behind it into the sturdy canyon walls on either side, creating a structure that is incredibly stable. It was meant to last for two thousand years, but with regular upkeep and improvements, it could easily last for many thousands of years more, should subsequent generations still require it.

What is the Hoover Dam’s Electric Output?

The Dam discharges around 20,000 gallons of water per second, directing it such that it spins seventeen 700-ton turbines at 180 rpm and drives generator blades at 180 rpm. Every year, 4 billion kilowatt-hours of power are produced by the ensuing magnetic field. This will satisfy the need of 1.3 million people. About 20% of the people serviced reside in Nevada, 20% in Arizona, and close to 60% in California.

The air conditioning that keeps people cool in the blistering summer heat, refrigerators and freezers that keep food fresh in supermarkets, and life-saving machinery in hospitals all operate on electricity. Additionally, it now aids in keeping a growing number of electric vehicles moving quickly down the road. Deaths at the Hoover Dam contributed to the region’s ability to live in the contemporary world.

How Much Water Is Provided by Hoover Dam?

After being built, Hoover Dam required several years to fully fill Lake Meade, the new reservoir behind it. The Lake should be 112 miles long, 532 feet deep, and cover 247.1 square miles when it is operating at full capacity. The Colorado River generally discharges 9.3 trillion gallons of water every two years into it. This water is used for agriculture to the tune of 70%.

Unfortunately, a persistent drought in the area has reduced the lake’s capacity to just 30%, and if drought conditions persist for another few years, the lake could totally dry up. As a result, numerous plans for new, ambitious projects have been made, including one that would involve piping water from the Mississippi River to the Colorado River in order to fill the reservoir. This plan would be very expensive and would have several unfavorable consequences.

Visiting Hoover Dam Today

Along with the roughly 1 million other people who go there each year, you can join a tour to learn more about this national treasure and its construction, including those who were fatalities at the Hoover Dam. The control facilities’ finished sections, which were adorned in the art-deco style that was popular in the 1930s and visible in the design elements of structures like the Empire State Building, will be displayed by guides. Some of the original tunnels used in the construction and finished rooms will also be displayed.

You can walk over the highest concrete arch bridge in the world to obtain a bird’s eye view of the dam and there is a viewing platform with breathtaking views at the dam. Pouring a bottle of water over the edge of the dam to observe how Hoover Dam “defies gravity” and causes water to flow up rather than down is an intriguing experiment that some visitors enjoy performing. There is no huge mystery here; it is the result of a powerful updraft caused by the dam’s curve in a small gorge. However, it’s a fun trick to teach your children.

Additionally popular with visitors is the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. To protect the region for wildlife and enjoyment, it includes the dam, reservoir, and neighboring areas. In addition to hunting and fishing with the right permits, camping and hiking are permitted as well. The next time you’re in Las Vegas, think about taking a short journey to see what made it all possible. It’s only about an hour away. And never forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our benefit even now.