Construction History of Hoover Dam “The Greatest Dam in the World”

An overview of Hoover Dam construction history with photos the 2nd highest dam in U.S. the 18th highest in the world and Las Vegas major tourist attraction.

Construction History of Hoover Dam “The Greatest Dam in the World” … Wondering if Las Vegas is even worth planning a family vacation…it may not be the first destination you think of when you’re planning a family vacation, but there’s no denying that Sin City is ideally located on your family’s destination wish list as there is a veritable smorgasbord of family-friendly attractions like the Hoover Dam. Hoover Dam is both educational and entertaining, making it the perfect excursion for your family’s adventure to Vegas.

This is an overview of Hoover Dam construction history with photos…The human been was capable to show his strength across nature, by creating large-scale projects on a par with it. This was proved by one of the most powerful structures of the 20th century – the Hoover Dam.

Where is hoover dam?

Hoover Dam is one of the most famous and recognizable in the world, as well as the most visited by tourists, Not far from the famous American city of Las Vegas. The dam sits on the border of two states Arizona and Nevada, in Black Canyon on the Colorado River, on the way to the Grand Canyon.

How far is Hoover Dam from Grand Canyon?

 It is approximately 95 miles from the Grand Canyon West, and 240 miles from Grand Canyon National Park. Also, about 10 km from the Nevada city of Boulder City and 50 km from Las Vegas which is on the “must-see” list of tourists and is rightly called the “World Capital of Entertainment” tourists, whether you’re travelling for business or to visit attractions in the United States.

This “arch-gravity” concrete dam was a federal project since the river’s basin covered several states and the river enters Mexico. These seven states of the Colorado basin were California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.

Dam name

This unique object was named after President Herbert Hoover the 31st US President by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. Largely thanks to this man, the Hoover Dam was built.Construction History of Hoover Dam _4

What is the main purpose of the Hoover Dam? And Why was the hoover dam built

Hoover Dam is one of the most ambitious construction projects in US history. The primary purposes for the construction of the Hoover Dam were to control water and irrigation. A dam that pacified the Colorado River from the melting snow in the Rocky Mountains. The melted snow from the mountains cause the river to flood in a large-scale to the surrounding lands in its lower reaches and to the downstream. The melted snow was dangerous and inconvenient for local residents due to the turbulent flow of water.

Who benefits from the Hoover Dam?

The dam was built in one of the river’s canyons to regulate fluctuations in the water level and get rid of its destructive force.The Hoover Dam were constructed to arid agricultural land with water in addition, the Hoover Dam get its water to help in providing uninterrupted water supply to Los Angeles and Southern California and to supply with inexpensive source electricity to be used by residents of Arizona, Nevada and California.
After the dam was authorized; and before the dam could be built, thousands of workers came to southern Nevada to work on this gigantic structure. The construction of the dam required a whole army of workers.

When did construction begin on Hoover Dam?

The contract was awarded in March 1931 to Six Companies


Workers had to be housed; The project provided for the construction of a city for its builders, Six Companies Inc. built Boulder City, Nevada for this proposes for 5251 builders beside Las Vegas which grew considerably even before the construction of the dam began. That is why the hoover dam was once known as Boulder Dam. Prior to constructing the dam, the wild Colorado River had to be diverted away from the construction site (Black Canyon) In order to drain the site of the future construction.

Preliminary work

To do this, four blasted tunnels were carved right through the canyon walls on both the Arizona and Nevada sides beginning in 1931.

Hoover dam deaths

Many people who visit Hoover Dam ask: 1) Has anyone ever died at the Hoover Dam? and 2) How many bodies are buried in the Hoover Dam?
Working conditions for these hard workers were extremely difficult. Unfortunately, there were some accidents. Many construction workers have died. In the tunnels, people were suffocating from carbon monoxide, many were disabled and crippled. A total of 96 people died here during the construction of the dam, but no one is buried in Hoover Dam.

Construction of dam-caissons

Two temporary enclosure dams so-called “caeson” dams were constructed in the second half of 1932, located above and below the dam site to prevent flooding of water into the area where men would be building the dam although at that time the diversion tunnels were not completed.

Concrete dam construction

The Hoover Dam and the installation of vertical columns of blocks for arch structure of the dam began. The first concrete was poured into the foundation of the dam in 1933. The concrete arch-gravity structure is 221.4 meters high and the base of the Hoover Dam about two hundred meters wide and thin near the top only fourteen. The weight of the concrete structure is 6.6 million tons, and the volume is 2.48 million m³. The dam was supposed to be used for automobile traffic.

How long did it take to build the hoover dam?

Hoover Dam was constructed between 1931 and 1936. It took only five years to build but its construction was nearly 30 years in the making.
Today, the Hoover Dam is the second highest dam in the state and the 18th highest in the world and it is a major tourist attraction as it is close to Las Vegas.

Why is the Hoover Dam so impressive?

Hoover Dam is one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern world and a modern engineering marvel. Hoover Dam was the world’s tallest dam when it was built in the 1930s till to 1949, but it is still one of the largest dams in America… the second-tallest dam in the U.S., the Hoover Dam is not the biggest in the world but still ranks in the top 20 of the tallest dams in the world.


This collection contains hoover dam pictures showing the construction process;

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1-This is a night view of the Hoover Dam.

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2-The vision for a dam on the Colorado River began as early as 1902.This was the site of one of the greatest federal engineering project of its time, the place where Hoover Dam would be constructed, is shown Sept. 19, 1930. Hoover Dam, the biggest dam project in the world when it was completed.

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3- In addition, to the size and power of the construction a largest man-made lake of all artificial reservoirs in the United States. was created. Tourists are attracted by the magnificent national recreation area of the country’s largest artificial lake – Mead lake behind hoover dam. Lake Mead, formed by the dam, immediately after its inauguration to become the largest reservoir in the States. A lake covering 227 square miles will form the 30,500,000-acre foot reservoir to a depth of 10 feet when full of Hoover Dam is completed. Land reclamation engineer Elmer L. Chapman points out the hills that will be flooded once construction is complete. Nevada, August 24, 1932. The flat top lone mountain in the center of the photograph will submerged after the completion of the project to be an island 14 feet above water. (AP Photo)

Hoover Dam Construction 1932

4-An aerial view of the becoming Hoover dam project region on March 4, 1931.

hydroelectric power

5-It is here that Hoover Dam project would rise. The diverted water of the Colorado is flowing from the mouths of the tunnels.

hydroelectric power

6-A steel bucket holding eight cubic yards dumps the first concrete was poured in June 1933 on the floor of Black Canyon in Boulder City, Nev., June 9, 1933.The formwork has three walls, and the fourth is formed by the adjacent rock of the canyon.


7-The Colorado River was diverted during constructed of Hoover Dam in the period of 1932-1934. This view shows the interior of one of the four 50-foot-wide tunnels and 2,200 feet in length, drilled through the solid rock walls of the Black Canyon through which the Colorado River will be diverted around the Hoover Dam site two drilled through the canyon walls on each side of the river. The largest of these tunnels was three miles long and had a diameter of three miles.
Inside one of the canyons- the interior of one of the tunnels – along which the Colorado River will be diverted. Nevada, April 18, 1932. The project is at an early stage of construction. After the completion of the dam, the dam diversion tunnels were partially drowned out on February 1, 1935 and partially used for water discharge which in turn gives the dam stability and reduces the load.

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Hoover Dam Construction


8-Jumbo Rig; is an engineering construction technology equipment provided to speed up the Hoover Dam’s tunnel drilling process. Built on the back of a 10-ton truck, 24 to 30 drills could be operated at once.

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9-Placing concrete in the sidewall of the Nevada spillway June 1933.

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10-This undated view, looking upstream through the Black Canyon would be thick concrete forms at the base of the Hoover Dam and thin near the top. Dozens of trucks delivering mortar materials are visible at the bottom of the image.



11-Engineers could not build the Hoover Dam in a monolithic structure… The fact that the Hoover Dam concrete would have cooled for 125 years.
There were several important inventions that made it possible to significantly speed up the construction…one of the most invention was the unique concrete cooling system for concrete hardening.
It was decided to build 215 rectangular vertical columns of concrete blocks stacked on top of each other. The vertical columns have special metal pipes in it through which a stream of ice water from the river was supplied through as a way to shorten the cooling time of the concrete and to avoid its contraction after cooling or cracking in the thick body of the dam due to the uneven setting of the mortar mass. After complete solidification, the gaps between them were filled with mortar. These concrete blocks were varied in size from about 60 feet square to about 25 feet square from the upstream face to the downstream face. After the concrete was cooled, a cement and water mixture were forced into the spaces created between the columns to form a monolithic (one-piece) structure. During the construction of the dam, beside the cooling concrete system many other innovations were used such as during construction, for the first time in history, workers used protective helmets to protect their heads.

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12-Working night and day; has pushed the schedule ahead for months.

Hoover Dam Construction

13-To build Hoover Dam an earth fill dam across the Colorado River was built to force its water into two fifty-foot diversion tunnels on the Arizona canyon wall using a constant stream of large trucks dumping fifty tons of soil a minute.


14-The core of the dam, near Boulder City made of immense concrete blocks lifted from the base of Black Canyon’s bedrock floor Nev., Aug. 12, 1933. Concrete solution is being poured into the forms at the rate of about 6,000 cubic meters per day.


15-This is an aerial view of one of the four 338 feet (103 meter) high Intake Towers that will stand in the deep waters of Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam, Aug. 9, 1934, two on each side.


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16-Construction of a retaining wall of the Hoover Dam in Nevada, near Las Vegas that gives support to the road which will be at the top of the dam itself Jan. 9, 1932.


17-Another view of the Hoover Dam from upstream as construction continued building the 215 vertical columns of concrete blocks, near Boulder City, Nev., Feb. 1, 1935. The crack in the upper center of the dam is a space left open will be filled with concrete after the cooling process as work progresses.


18- The three-million-pound gate above One of the 4 tunnels which were used to divert the Colorado River ready to be closed on Feb. 1, 1935, as a step before filling the huge reservoir. The picture was taken shortly before the gate closed.

Hoover Dam Construction 1935

19-This general view of Black Canyon on the Colorado River, looking upstream toward the site of Hoover Dam, shows a temporary steel suspension bridge in the foreground and portals of the four 56-foot-diameter diversion tunnel bores which will divert the Colorado River’s flow around the Hoover Dam while it is under construction, March 12, 1932. Their combined length was nearly 16,000 feet (more than three miles).

Hoover Dam Construction 1932

20-Construction of The cement forms for the two power plants.


21-A closer look at the Construction of the cement forms for the Hoover Dam two power plants. The concrete pouring process appears to be complete.


22-Construction of the 13 feet diameter needle valves of the power plant.


23- (1935) * – The needle valves of the Hoover Dam power plants view getting close to completion. The valves are 13 feet in diameter and will discharge the water back into the Colorado River once the water does its work by turning the turbine generators.


24- An overview shows a highway on the crest of the Hoover Dam, aka Boulder Dam, which will provide an easy route between Las Vegas, Nev., and Kingman, Arizona July 16, 1935.


25-The rarely-seen upstream face of Hoover Dam, May 1935.

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26- workers painting the slanted wall of riveted-steel plates on the Hoover Dam spillway. Photo dated between 1936 and 1946.

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27- (1935) * – The upstream face of Hoover Dam close to completion which will slowly disappears as Lake Mead fills. Water can already be seen at the base of the dam.

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28-The Hoover Dam is nearing completion… The last stages of construction Aug. 28, 1934. The elevation is 500 feet out of the 730 projected above the bottom of the canyon. 

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29- The Hoover Dam was on its finishing touches on Aug. 12, 1931.


This is the 3500 horsepower generator in the foreground, on September 11, 1936 created the first power from the dam in Boulder City. `

Hoover Dam Construction


31- This is the 3500 horsepower generator in the foreground, on September 11, 1936 created the first power from the dam in Boulder City. `

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32- A view of the Hoover Dam1935

Hoover Dam

FDR At Boulder Dam 1935

33- An aerial view of the Hoover Dam of the Boulder Canyon project on March 13, 1936. Above the dam, part of the Mead reservoir is visible downstream. The dam flows tens of thousands of liters of water per second from the lake from outlet valves on the Arizona side, below dam.


34-This is the high-voltage switching yard in the Department of the Interior with the steel distribution equipment against a black desert sky.  at Boulder Dam, at night April 27, 1937.

hydroelectric power

35-(1934) – Hoover dam turbines; Looking down at the construction of one of the Nevada intake towers that will rise 395 feet into the air. These towers permit and control flow of water into tunnels and then to huge generators in the power turbines below the 727-foot dam.
Hoover Dam Construction

Hoover Dam Construction

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36- These six 82, 500-vollite generator in the world’s biggest power plant in the Nevada wing of the power house at Boulder Dam Feb. 7, 1939 can start electricity over the world’s longest power transmission line ( 365 miles to Los Angeles). Production at that time was approximately one-third of the ultimate capacity. (AP Photo)

Hoover Dam Construction

37- An aerial view over Lake Mead and Boulder Hoover Dam, July 13, 1948.
(AP Photo)

hydroelectric power

38- Night view of Hoover Dam and Mead Lake at Dusk shows the roadway over the dam top illuminated and the candles atop the intake towers, Sept. 20, 1950. (AP Photo)

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39 This magnificent man-made Hoover Dam known as one of the world’s largest electrical power plants is one of this century’s outstanding triumphs of engineering and construction. Hoover Dam provides a variety of pleasures for visiting vacationers thus became a favorite vacation playground. Lake Mead, stretching above the dam for 115 miles which is the largest reservoir in the United States offers excellent fishing all year and is a perfect spot for boating, swimming and other water sports through the long summer season.

Hoover Dam Construction

Hoover Dam Construction

Lake Mead near the 395-foot-tall intake towers of Hoover Dam. Through these towers flows the water which operates the huge generators in the powerhouse below the 727-foot dam April 14, 1938.

Hoover Dam Construction

41-Spectators watch from bridge over the Arizona as Boulder Dam has been opened for an indefinite period to empty overflowing for first time in the history of the dam, August 6, 1941, and pours 15,000 cubic feet per minute from record level of Lake Mead into Colorado River behind the dam. The upper part of Lake Mead will be in preparation for re-filling floods next spring.

Hoover Dam Construction

Hoover Dam Construction

Hoover Dam Construction

42- The mighty man-made falls of the Colorado River Millions of gallons of water gush from bypass tunnels from the six outlets while wide open.


43-An aerial view shows the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge 1,900-foot-long structure sits 890 feet above the Colorado River and bypassing the Hoover Dam October 26, 2010.The bypass project was constructed to relieve vehicle traffic on the Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge Project Complete

44-44-(October 9, 1936)* – The beacon light placed on the top of Los Angeles City Hall is lighted when power arrived from Hoover Dam , the street became ablaze with light tens of thousands of people jammed the parade route on Broadway on that night when the first Hoover power streaked 266 miles from the power plant to Los Angeles. .




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