Future Site of Hoover Dam (02:49)
Engineers Walker "Brig" Young and Frank Crow are tasked by the government with building a hydroelectric dam to transform Black Canyon, on the Nevada-Arizona border. Many believe it is impossible to tame the dangerous Colorado River.
Dynamics of Arch-Gravity Dams (02:59)
Work begins in March 1931. Six Companies, Inc. has agreed to tight government deadlines to win the bid. Crowe builds an access road to the site for bringing in building materials. He has a reputation for pushing his men hard to avoid financial penalties.
Job Creation During Great Depression (03:09)
President Hoover is funding the dam to stimulate the economy. To divert the Colorado River from the construction site, workers drill and blast diversion tunnels into the canyon. The tunnels must be completed in 24 months to meet the first government deadline.
Dangerous Work (02:27)
Nine hundred men scale the canyon walls to smooth them with jack hammers and crowbars while dynamite blasts puncture holes into the walls. Three months into construction, four men have died. To protect themselves, the workers dip baseball caps into tar.
Ragtown and Union Activism (04:21)
Shanty towns grow up around the dam site. Four women die due to heat and contaminated water, while many workers die in the 140-degree diversion tunnels. Union activism by Industrial Workers of the World assists the workers to make a list of demands.
Dam Workers Evicted (05:51)
Crowe fails to provide ventilation and water in the underground tunnels; men are forced to work around corpses. Union activist Anderson convinces 1400 men to strike. Newly hired workers accept lower wages in return for water coolers and a promise to build family housing.
Lawsuit and Worker Housing (04:51)
"Drill jumbo" trucks are built to work in the tunnels, but exhaust fumes cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Lawyers misrepresent worker symptoms as "pneumonia." Crowe begins building Boulder City, threatening carpenters with termination if 2 houses are not completed every 3 days.
Boulder City (04:33)
In spring of 1932, the mountain snowmelt floods the tunnels and dam site. Workers are laid off without pay, spending time in local bars. Worker housing is completed along with four churches and a school.
Dam Building Begins (05:00)
In the fall of 1932, the tunnels are lined with concrete, and the Colorado River's former path is blocked. Crowe devises revolutionary systems for aerial transport of wet concrete for the dam walls and cooling of laid concrete.
Mistrial in Hoover Dam Lawsuit (05:49)
As the lawsuit claiming carbon monoxide poisoning goes to trial, Six Companies, Inc. sets the main witness up with a prostitute to test his claims of impotence. Crowe increases the workforce to 5,251 men, who pour the 3-millionth cubic yard of concrete in a record 6 months.
Hoover Dam Completed (04:30)
A worker is buried alive in a concrete accident, bringing the total death toll to 107 men. On February 1, 1935, the diversion tunnels are sealed, and the Colorado River backs up behind the dam to create Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake in the U.S.
Credits: The Hoover Dam (00:52)
Credits: The Hoover Dam
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