May 29, 2007

Completion of the Hoover Dam

On May 29, 1935, construction on the Hoover Dam was completed.

There are many stories connected with the building of the Hoover Dam. One of the most interesting, in my estimation, is the story of the building of Boulder City.

Six Companies, Inc. was the construction company awarded the contract for building Hoover Dam, and they had also been contracted to build a town for the construction workers, to be named Boulder City. However, due to the widespread unemployment created by the Great Depression, Six Companies was under considerable pressure to get the main project going, and, as a result, Boulder City was not ready when the first workers arrived in 1931. Temporary camps, such as Ragtown, were set up for the workers and their wives, but the conditions were bad. Workers quickly became discontented, both with their housing facilities and with dangerous working conditions on the dam site, and they went on strike.

Six Companies sent in strike-breakers who settled the strike quickly, although violently (the "guns and clubs" method of negotiation), and the strikers were soon back to work. However, Six Companies decided they'd better do something about the housing situation, and Boulder City was soon completed.

Not wanting any more trouble, the national Bureau of Reclamation banned alcohol, gambling, and union membership in Boulder City. Even today, gambling is illegal in Boulder City -- one of only two towns in Nevada where that is true. (The other is Panaca, which was originally founded as a Mormon settlement.) Alcohol sales were not permitted there until 1969.

Photo: Hydroelectric generators at Hoover Dam, photo by Jon Sullivan, Public Domain

No comments: