Building of Hoover Dam begins 1930
On this day in 1930, construction of the Hoover Dam begins. Over the next five years, a total of 21,000 men would work ceaselessly to produce what would be the largest dam of its time, as well as one of the largest manmade structures in the world.
Although the dam would take only five years to build, its construction was nearly 30 years in the making. Arthur Powell Davis, an engineer from the Bureau of Reclamation, originally had his vision for the Hoover Dam back in 1902, and his engineering report on the topic became the guiding document when plans were finally made to begin the dam in 1922.
Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States and a committed conservationist, played a crucial role in making Davis’ vision a reality. As secretary of commerce in 1921, Hoover devoted himself to the erection of a high dam in Boulder Canyon, Colorado. The dam would provide essential flood control, which would prevent damage to downstream farming communities that suffered each year when snow from the Rocky Mountains melted and joined the Colorado River. Further, the dam would allow the expansion of irrigated farming in the desert, and would provide a dependable supply of water for Los Angeles and other southern California communities.
Even with Hoover’s exuberant backing and a regional consensus around the need to build the dam, Congressional approval and individual state cooperation were slow in coming. For many years, water rights had been a source of contention among the western states that had claims on the Colorado River. To address this issue, Hoover negotiated the Colorado River Compact, which broke the river basin into two regions with the water divided between them. Hoover then had to introduce and re-introduce the bill to build the dam several times over the next few years before the House and Senate finally approved the bill in 1928.
In 1929, Hoover, now president, signed the Colorado River Compact into law, claiming it was “the most extensive action ever taken by a group of states under the provisions of the Constitution permitting compacts between states.”
Once preparations were made, the Hoover Dam’s construction sprinted forward: The contractors finished their work two years ahead of schedule and millions of dollars under budget. Today, the Hoover Dam is the second highest dam in the country and the 18th highest in the world. It generates enough energy each year to serve over a million people, and stands, in Hoover Dam artist Oskar Hansen’s words, as “a monument to collective genius exerting itself in community efforts around a common need or ideal.”
(More Events on This Day in History)
- 1777 Battle of Hubbardton
- 2000 Stock car driver Kenny Irwin Jr. dies in crash
- 1863 Kit Carson’s campaign against the Indians
- 1983 Samantha Smith leaves for visit to the USSR
- 1865 Mary Surratt is first woman executed by U.S. federal government
- 1987 Tanker accident causes deadly fire
- 1797 The impeachment of Senator Blount
- 1941 U.S. occupies Iceland
- 1976 Female cadets enrolled at West Point
- 1981 O’Connor nominated to Supreme Court
- 2005 Terrorists attack London transit system at rush hour
- 2006 Johnny Depp stars in second Pirates of the Caribbean movie
- 1852 Birthday of Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick, Dr. Watson
- 1962 “The Stripper,” by David Rose, becomes the #1 pop hit in America
- 1900 Warren Earp killed in Arizona
- 1946 Future President Jimmy Carter marries
- 1912 Jim Thorpe begins Olympic triathlon
- 1955 China announces it will provide aid to Hanoi
- 1964 New ambassador arrives in Saigon
- 1969 First U.S. troops withdrawn from South Vietnam
World War I
- 1917 British Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps is officially established
World War II
- 1942 Himmler decides to begin medical experiments on Auschwitz prisoners