On this day in history, July 7, 1930, construction of the Hoover Dam began.
Over the course of the next five years, more than 21,000 men would work tirelessly to produce what would become the largest dam of its time and one of the largest manmade structures in the world, according to History.com.
Ninety-six workers died during the construction of the dam from 1931 to 1936, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The Hoover Dam water intake towers at Lake Mead, the country’s largest manmade water reservoir, formed by the dam on the Colorado River in the Southwestern U.S., as seen in July 2022 near Boulder City, Nevada. The lake, a national recreation area, located within the states of Nevada and Arizona 24 miles east of the Las Vegas Strip, serves water to the states of Arizona, California, Utah, Colorado and Nevada, as well as parts of Mexico. (George Rose/Getty Images)
The Hoover Dam is named for President Herbert Hoover, 31st president of the United States.
“When construction of the dam was initiated, Secretary of the Interior Ray Lyman Wilbur ordered the dam to be built in the Black Canyon of the Colorado [River] as part of the Boulder Canyon Project Act … to be called Hoover Dam,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Although the dam would take only five years to build, its construction was nearly 30 years in the making.
Although the dam would take only five years to build, its construction was nearly 30 years in the making, multiple sources said.
Arthur Powell Davis, an engineer from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, originally had a vision for the Hoover Dam back in 1902. His engineering report on the topic became the guiding document when plans were finally made to begin the dam in 1922, according to History.com.
Today, it does so for nearly literally millions of people, according to Travel Nevada.
Despite President Hoover’s support and backing for the need to build the dam, congressional approval and individual state cooperation were slow in coming, according to History.com.
Water rights had been a source of contention among the western states that had claims on the Colorado River. To address this challenge, President Hoover negotiated the Colorado River Compact, which broke the river basin into two regions with the water divided between them, the same source chronicled.
A vehicle towing personal watercraft drives past a sign welcoming visitors to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area on July 1, 2022, in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. The water level at Lake Mead was at its lowest since it was filled in 1937 after the construction of the Hoover Dam. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
“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,” said History.com.
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, noted the same source.
The Hoover Dam came to symbolize what American industry and American workers could do, even in the depths of the Great Depression.
The Triborough Bridge (the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge), the Lincoln Tunnel and La Guardia Airport all transformed the transportation network in New York City — and the Big Apple’s Empire State Building reigned as the world’s tallest building from 1931 to 1973.
On the West Coast, the Golden Gate Bridge was also built in the same decade in San Francisco.
The old road along the crest is reserved for use by visitors to the dam, says the same source.
The Hoover Dam is a National Historic Landmark.