Happy Birthday, Hoover Dam!

Photograph of the Boulder Dam from Across the Colorado River, by Ansel Adams, c. 1940

Hoover Dam (then called Boulder Dam), was dedicated by Franklin Roosevelt 80 years ago on September 30, 1935. It would be more than a decade before President Truman signed a congressional resolution making “Hoover Dam” the official name.

A marvel of modern engineering when it was constructed during the Great Depression, Hoover Dam was the largest dam in the world at the time. It required nearly 88 million cubic feet of concrete, which made it the first single structure to use more masonry than the Great Pyramid of Giza. All of the concrete was poured into individual, rectangular-shaped sections that were then cured using over 582 miles of cooling pipes. (If the concrete had been poured in a single, continuous pour—and left to cool naturally—it would still be settling today.)

By taming the flow of the mighty Colorado River and turning it into hydroelectric power, this huge dam on the Arizona-Nevada border provided electricity to the Southwest, fueling the development of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. Hoover Dam still stands as a testament to the ingenuity, perseverance, and sheer hard work of the thousands who labored in harsh conditions for over five years to build it.

Visit the official Hoover Dam website to learn more about the history of Hoover Dam, find answers to frequently asked questions, download a Hoover Dam Learning Packet, view a page of fun facts for kids, and more.


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