The Hoover Dam: an engineering and artistic masterpiece

Built in the 1930s to provide hydroelectric power and help control floods in the Colorado River, the Hoover Dam is a testament to human ingenuity and determination.
Interesting Engineering

One of the world’s most iconic builds is this dam on the border between Nevada and Arizona, United States of America. The Boulder dam has stood the test of time for almost a century. What didn’t however, was its name when 31st U. S president Herbert Hoover controversially renamed the dam, Hoover Dam. 

The multifaceted architectural marvel serves as a bridge over the Colorado river, providing power to the surrounding states and playing a role in controlling floods. Not only did it play a vital role in the conception of the world’s most famous desert city, Las Vegas, but the Hoover Dam also continues to generate enough power for 1.3 million people annually.

Although the idea for the dam was incepted in one of the world’s worst economic crises, the Great Depression didn’t stop the US government from beginning construction in 1931. Such was the unprecedented level of complexity that companies needed to pool their resources to win the construction contract. The project also became a relief to the scores of people who set up camp next to the site for a chance to work on the dam- a sign of the desperation of the times. However, not all of these laborers would see the dam complete, with sources citing carbon monoxide poisoning and pneumonia to be the villain.

Such an architectural feat did not come easy, however. The Colorado river bed is made up of loose sand and gravel and hence needed a solution for constructing the dam’s foundation to be devised. Workers dug down to reach solid rock atop which the foundation was then built. This is significant because the dam, designed to be a concrete art gravity dam, uses the weight of the concrete to hold the water back. Hence, five million barrels of cement needed to be used. 

The Hoover Dam serves more purposes than just holding back water and looking majestic while at it. In addition to housing a hydroelectric power plant, the dam provides irrigation water to the farmers in the southwest. Several innovative technologies were incorporated to make the dam efficient. The spillway designed to channel excess water away from the dam and prevent damage to its structure is a fine example. 

The dam’s timeless design is a testament to the optimism and progress of the time it was built; it is one of the most sought-after sights by engineering and architectural enthusiasts alike.