Transcript for Hoover Dam Construction, segment 04 of 17


Highways were pushed across the desert, railroad lines thrust their ribbons of steel through the sagebrush and cactus, and transmission lines for construction power were brought hundreds of miles across the heat-stricken wastelands of the southern Nevada desert. Every section of the country was called upon to contribute to the staggering quantity and wide diversity of materials required. Thousands of tons of steel; millions of barrels of cement; machinery, gasoline, and oil by the thousands of gallons; tools; building materials - all these and much more were concentrated at the site of operations in an endless stream. The engineering forces completed their surveys working under the most hazardous conditions, and every state in the union furnished its quota of laborers and artisans. In what had once been an uninhabited, waterless desert supporting only a sparse and hospitable growth of chapparal and cactus, the beautiful little town of Boulder City was built within the short space of fifteen months to house the army of five thousand men to be employed.

Here was no construction camp such as was known in the early days of the West. Instead, Boulder City was developed as a model town, furnishing every facility and convenience to its inhabitants. Four churches, a modern fully-equipped school, and various civic organizations met the cultural requirements of the community, while a theater and several clubs furnished recreation. A thriving business section developed along the principal streets, while pleasant homes surrounded by gardens faced the broad tree-lined residential avenues of this modern, spotless town.

The buildings housing the offices of the Bureau of Reclamation and the civic administration, which operated directly under the federal government, were set in the midst of pleasant parks which were welcome havens of rest after the day's labors in a country where the summer temperature often reaches a hundred and twenty-five degrees above zero.

In the business section of the town, arcades formed a protection against the tropic sun. Lovely flower gardens bloomed in marked contrast with the surrounding desert. Lining street after street, the white cottages of the married workmen recalled to mind the military camps of nineteen eighteen, while single men were housed in air-cooled dormitories, each accommodating a hundred and seventy-six occupants. Under conditions which would have gained the whole-hearted approval of any modern housewife, tons of food were prepared and served daily in the sanitary, electrically-equipped kitchens. A corps of cooks and waiters was able to feed as many as thirteen hundred men in one setting of the tables. Menus were varied, and the food was of excellent quality.

As Boulder City was about seven miles distant from the dam site, it was necessary to provide transportation for the workmen to and from the job. This was accomplished by a fleet of passenger motor trucks. Some of them carrying as many as a hundred and sixty men.

A twenty-four day was divided into three shifts of eight hours each for all classes of labor. The Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Christmas were the only holidays observed once the rapid tempo of the ambitious construction schedule was established and underway toward the marking of a record-breaking achievement in American engineering history.