Hoover Dam
Boulder Canyon Project
1931 - 1936

Hoover Dam is one of the highest concrete dams in the world. It stands in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. The dam is part of the Boulder Canyon Project. The project also includes a hydroelectric power plant and a reservoir. It controls floods of the Colorado River and supplies water and electric power for much of the Pacific Southwest. The project is on the Arizona-Nevada border, about 25 miles southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Hoover Dam is 726 feet high and 1,244 feet long. Elevators descend the equivalent of 44 stories into the dam and still do not reach its base. The concrete base is 660 feet thick. It contains about 4˝ million cubic yards of concrete, enough to pave a two-lane highway from New York City to San Francisco.

Lake Mead, the dam reservoir, is one of the world's largest artificially created bodies of water. It is about 115 miles long and 589 feet deep. The reservoir can store approximately 28 million acre-feet of water.

Water falling through the huge turbines of the dam generates electric power, which is sold to industries and to cities in the Pacific Southwest. The power plant has a capacity of about 1˝ million kilowatts. Several power lines lead from the Boulder Canyon Project to the Los Angeles area of California. Generators at the dam supply much of the power consumed in Arizona, Nevada, and southern California. Water from Lake Mead behind the dam can irrigate about 1 million acres of farmland in the three-state area. The reservoir also supplies water for cities in southern California through an aqueduct that is 240 miles long.

The need for a dam on the Colorado River was apparent in the early 1900's. Floods were causing much damage in the Palo Verde Valley and in the Imperial Valley. Extensive levees were built, but crops died when the river ran too low to meet the area's irrigation needs.

In 1928, Congress authorized the Boulder Canyon Project and on July 7, 1930, construction began on the dam which was named Hoover Dam to honor President Herbert Hoover. After he left office in 1933, the Department of the Interior began to call the dam Boulder Dam or Boulder Canyon Dam. Congress officially named it Hoover Dam in 1947. The Bureau of Reclamation designed the dam and supervised its construction. The entire project cost about $385 million and the dam itself cost more than $175 million. Hoover Dam was completed in 1936.


Contributor: Edward C. Pritchett, B.S., Former Chief, Geotechnical Branch, Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

SOURCE: IBM 1999 World Book


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