Hoover Dam Fun Facts
Chief dam engineer Frank T. Crowe lived up to his nickname, “Hurry Up” Crowe. The dam was completed two years ahead of schedule, in 1935.
Hoover Dam is 726 feet high, 45 feet thick at the top and 660 feet at the bottom, and is larger than the Great Pyramid of Cheops.
Hoover Dam is filled with 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete, enough to pave a strip 16 feet wide and 8 inches thick from San Francisco to New York City.
If the heat produced by the curing concrete could have been concentrated in a baking oven, it could have baked 500,000 loaves of bread per day for three years.
Dam workers improvised hard hats by coating cloth hats with coal tar. The hats were so good at protecting the worker’s heads that Six Companies, the contractor, ordered commercially made hard hats of this same design for every man.
The lowest wage for a Hoover Dam worker was 50 cents an hour. The highest, $1.25.
High scalers, the workers who hung from ropes on the canyon walls as they drilled with jackhammers and packed dynamite, included circus acrobats, among others.
Sometimes for fun when the foremen weren’t looking, high scalers would swing out from the canyon walls and perform stunts for the workers below.
From the Nevada side of the dam you can see the silhouette of a World War II gun emplacement standing on the Arizona side of Lake Mead. A major source of power for the defense industry, Hoover Dam was considered a primary military target.
On the wall across from the escalator to the dam tour is a plaque dedicated to the Hoover Dam mascot, a stray dog who “adopted” the dam and its workers. He is buried nearby.
Hoover Dam is named for Herbert Hoover, the nation’s 31st president. After he left office, the names “Boulder Canyon Dam” and “Boulder Dam” were frequently used, allegedly because the new Secretary of the Interior did not like the former president.
Two winged figures, 30 feet tall and made of bronze, stand on the Nevada side’s approach to the dam. Legend has it that rubbing their toes brings good luck.
The winged figures rest on a black marble star chart that represents the stars’ positions on the day the dam was dedicated, September 30, 1935.
On the dam tour, you can see gleaming terrazzo floors imbedded with Southwestern Indian designs adapted from baskets, pottery, and sand paintings by Italian craftsmen.
Boulder City, formerly the town where dam workers were housed, still does not allow gambling within town limits, a regulation imposed in the 1930s. Boulder City is the only town in Nevada to prohibit gambling.
On their time off, exhausted dam workers would often go to the Boulder City cinema, one of the two buildings with air conditioning. Most of them slept through the movies.
The bypass bridge, located approximately 1,500 feet south of the dam, is 1,900 feet long. The arch span stretches 1,060 feet, and the deck stands 900 feet above the river. The bridge’s pedestrian walkway will give visitors expansive views of Hoover Dam, Black Canyon, Colorado River and Lake Mead.
The total cost of the bypass bridge is $240 million, $100 million in federal funds, $20 million each from Nevada and Arizona, and $100 million in state bond funds. Of the approximate $130 million in bond funds ($100 million plus interest), advanced by the two states, about $96.32 million has been repaid.