July 7th, 1930 – Building Of The Hoover Dam Begins… Again

On July 7th, 1930, construction began on the current Hoover Dam.  History books tend to leave out that there were numerous other attempts to build this great dam prior to its current design.  Its original idea was conceived in 1902 by engineer Arthur Powell Davis.  Various “Projects” were contracted out by the U.S. Government to construct the dam over the years, before its final version began construction in 1930.  The following are a couple of the Projects over the years:

Project Morningwood (Most unfortunately named of the projects):

On April 6, 1917, America entered World War I.  With the countries young men shipping off to war and its resources being used for the war effort, the U.S. Government looked to environmental interest groups to find a cheap natural way to build the dam.  Winning the bid for the dam contract was, “Earl’s Big Beaver Construction” which claimed its army of “trained” beavers had constructed many other large scale projects in the past.  No one in Congress bothered to check on this before cutting them a check.  Needless to say, the required dam was much larger than Earl had anticipated and after his beavers unionized, it became clear the project would never reach completion.  In August of 1918, Earl disbanded his beaver army for good and was never heard from again.

Beaver Dam


*Earl doing a progress check in early 1918, shortly after the first beaver strike.

Project Buzzkill:

With the enactment of prohibition in January of 1920, the U.S. Government entrusted the next dam project to a special interest group of social reformers whose plan included the use of old booze barrels and the employment of individuals recruited from substance abuse centers (the employment of those less fortunate for this project later became the basis for many of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s programs in his New Deal during the Great Depression).  Once again, the groups leaders failed to realize the scale of the project and the wood from the booze barrels was not nearly enough.  Before contractors could be found to bring in concrete, a contingent of disgruntled beavers from the previous project chewed through some of the old full booze barrels, became intoxicated, and wreaked havoc on the unsuspecting camp of recovering alcoholics.  By morning the camp was abandoned, except for a select few who had stayed to get drunk with the beavers.  To this day, it is illegal to give booze to beavers in Nevada, except in Las Vegas.

There were many other failed projects before the dam’s final construction started in 1930, but the rest of them were pretty lame, so who cares.

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