Trivia Minute October 9, 2015

193: A Whole Lot of Dam Facts About Hoover Dam

by Marcus Michelson
Hoover Dam with the new bypass bridge downstream. (Photo from HDR Inc.)
Hoover Dam with the new bypass bridge downstream. (Photo from HDR Inc.)

On this date in 1936, what is now called Hoover Dam began producing electricity.

Here are some things you may not have known about the dam.

The Hoover Dam was built between 1931 and 1936 on the Colorado River at Black Canyon on the state line between Nevada and Arizona, about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

The dam cost $49 million at the time of construction, or roughly equivalent to $833 million today.

It was built for power production, flood control, water storage and recreational purposes.

The reservoir behind Hoover Dam is Lake Mead, which is  the largest reservoir in the United States in terms of water capacity.

During construction, the U.S. government changed the name of the dam to Boulder Dam to avoid association with former President Herbert Hoover, who was wildly unpopular at the time due to the Great Depression.

112 people died during construction of the dam, including 96 on the construction site itself. An additional 42 workers were said to have died of pneumonia, but in actuality likely died from carbon monoxide poisoning in tunnels.

A total of 3 and a quarter million cubic yards of concrete was used in construction of the dam and more than 582 miles of cooling pipes were run through the concrete. There is enough concrete in the dam to pave a two-lane highway from San Francisco to New York.

Boulder City, Nevada, was constructed to house the average workforce of 3,500 men at any one time. Boulder City remains today and is one of two cities in Nevada which prohibit gambling. Panaca in eastern Nevada is the other.

The name was officially changed back to Hoover Dam in 1947.

Between the dam’s completion and 2010, the highway between Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas ran across the top of the dam. Because of security concerns and traffic backups, a new bridge was built just downstream of the dam.

Today the dam generates 4.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity; sending most of its power to Nevada, Arizona and Los Angeles.

Our question, how many workers are entombed in Hoover Dam?

Today is World Post Day and part of World Space Week. It’s also Independence Day in Uganda. In the United States it’s unofficially Leif Erikson Day and National Moldy Cheese Day. It’s the birthday of musicians Giuseppe Verdi, John Lennon, John Entwistle, Jackson Browne, PJ Harvey and Sean Lennon.

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