Hoover Dam Essay Example
Hoover Dam Essay Example

Hoover Dam Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (1569 words)
  • Published: March 9, 2019
  • Type: Case Study
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The Hoover Dam, a remarkable civil engineering achievement in America (Hernan 22), is fascinating to those interested in exceptional human ingenuity (Haussler 30). Its immense size and construction during the Great Depression have always captivated my interest.

Initially, I conducted research on civil engineering, specifically focusing on salary and job descriptions. During this research, I came across John L. Savage's name. Savage is the engineer responsible for overseeing the design of the Hoover Dam as well as numerous other dams in the United States. In 1903, after joining the United States Reclamation Service, Savage worked on the Minidoka irrigation project in Idaho. He expressed that his journey of constructing dams began with his observation of a river and vast undeveloped areas in the Snake River Valley, stating, "When I first went out to the Snake River V


alley, I saw only a river and a lot of wasteland."

After the construction of the dam, the landscape underwent a transformation as it obtained a water source. This attracted farmers who settled in the area to cultivate the soil, resulting in successful crop growth. Consequently, villages and towns sprung up as a result of this development. This is why I believe this work is incredibly joyful and exhilarating (qtd.

McCann points out that the qualities he mentions are evident to me and others in this profession. Civil engineers have been responsible for overseeing all the impressive structures and ventures around the globe. For instance, projects like the Hoover Dam not only disrupted river currents but also gave rise to communities, industries, and even transformed arid lands. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that dams can also bring about unfavorabl

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The Colorado River, although too thick to drink and too wet to plow (Boris 4), proved not too strong to dam. The Boulder Canyon Project, which originated in 1928 (Wassner 98), aimed to control floods, store water from the Colorado River, and generate hydroelectric power (Hoover Dam - FAQs). According to John R. Hall, the construction of the Hoover Dam aimed to harness the tremendous power of the Colorado River (22). The Department of Reclamation faced an enormous challenge in overseeing the building of the Hoover Dam (Hall 22), previously known as Boulder Dam but renamed Hoover Dam in honor of President Herbert Hoover, who strongly supported its construction on the Colorado River (Wassner 97).

The first step involved with the construction of the dam was to establish accessibility to the dam site and provide housing for the six-thousand workers. To address this, Boulder City was established to accommodate both government and contractor employees. Moreover, a twenty-two foot wide highway was constructed to connect Boulder City with the dam site, which was located seven miles away. Additionally, Union Pacific railroad built a railway spanning almost thirty-three miles from Las Vegas to Boulder City and then to the dam site. Since electricity was required for the construction, a power transmission line extending two-hundred and twenty-two miles from San Bernardino, California to the dam site was also constructed. The next task involved in preparing the dam site required diverting the flowing river. To achieve this, diversion tunnels were built with measurements of four-thousand feet in length and fifty-six feet in diameter. The construction of these tunnels took approximately two years and had to be conducted during winter due

to the vigorous rapids of Colorado during warm weather (Hoover Dam - FAQs; Wassner 98; Gorum).

After redirecting the river, it resulted in an unpleasant stench from the leftover muck, comprising two million cubic yards of mud and silt. This waste was removed, revealing the bedrock capable of sustaining the dam (Wassner 98). None of the individual construction companies possessed sufficient funds to obtain the performance bond, leading six companies to join forces and establish Six Companies Inc.

(1936: Hoover). For the purpose of meeting the requirement of construction materials for the dam, steel and aggregate plants were established (Dam one of). To transport these materials and other necessary items to the dam site, a railway system and dump trucks were utilized (Hernan 22). The majority of the Hoover Dam (The Hoover Dam) is composed of concrete; an astronomical amount of 3.25 million cubic yards were utilized, rendering it infeasible to pour the entire structure at once (Wassner 99).

Hernan (23) states that three factors made the task impossible: the abundance of concrete needed, the immense size of the dam, and the high temperature of the concrete. Due to the enormous quantity required, it was not feasible for a single company to handle it alone. As a result, several concrete companies were established near the construction site solely for this purpose. Transporting concrete to the dam involved using both barrels and railroad cars.

The dam used a specially designed cable system to lift and dispose of barrels with eight cubic yards of concrete each (1936: Hoover). This system transported the barrels down to the canyon where construction was taking place. Furthermore, due to its immense size, the cable

system also served as transportation for workers and materials to the bottom of the canyon. According to Cecilia Wassner, Hoover Dam is 726 feet tall and has a base width of 660 feet, with a top width of only 45 feet (99). Moreover, the dam spans a length of 12,244 feet.

The dam was constructed in blocks of twenty-five by five feet instead of using a form to pour the concrete in one continuous run. Grout was used to fill the cracks between these segments in order to create a single unified structure. The smaller segments were primarily built to facilitate the cooling of the concrete (Sevastiades 17).

Without that factor, the dam would probably have been poured in larger segments, resulting in a total of 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete in the dam. However, it would have taken an extensive duration of two-hundred years to cure. In order to expedite the process, innovative engineers devised a refrigeration method, which reduced the curing time to just one year (Hall 23).

During the construction of the dam, a system consisting of one inch pipes was employed to eliminate heat above 72aF. The placement of these pipes was at an interval of five feet and covered a total distance of five-hundred and ninety-two miles. Comprising of five-thousand and eighty coils, these pipes were utilized for monitoring temperature during concrete pouring through the use of four hundred electrical resistance thermometers. In order to facilitate this process, an eight-hundred feet distant refrigeration plant alongside a seven-story cooling tower were constructed near the dam. These facilities had the capability to generate one-thousand tons of ice per day. Consequently, cold water was pumped

through the dam from these facilities at a rate equivalent to four gallons per minute (Hall 25).

The dam was finished ahead of schedule, completing in five years instead of the intended seven. About sixteen thousand men were employed for the construction project, with approximately three thousand workers on-site at all times. Construction work proceeded continuously in twenty-four-hour shifts, except on Christmas and Independence Day.

According to Hernan (22), the dam was located in a desert region with temperatures that could reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the challenging and dangerous conditions, the workers were compensated well for their work. They earned an impressive wage of five dollars per hour, which was over four times higher than the average wage during that period (Wassner 99).

Following the completion of the dam, the Colorado River water was able to flow freely once more, mimicking its natural state. Nonetheless, a challenge arose - now there was a 6.6 million ton obstacle obstructing its path (Hernan 23). As the river proceeded along its course, it created Lake Mead, which bears the name of Elwood Mead, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation Service. This lake stretches for one-hundred and fifteen miles upstream from Hoover Dam and possesses an astounding capacity of 28.5 million acre-feet of water. To provide you with a sense of its magnitude, envision a football field filled with water one foot deep and then multiply that by 28.5 million.

According to Wassner (99), the text indicates a significant amount of water that would take six weeks to completely drain. This volume of water is so immense that it can sustain 20 million individuals and support the irrigation needs of 1.5 million

acres of land (Gorum). Wassner (99) also mentions that it took six and a half years for the reservoir to reach its maximum capacity, and it has the ability to store two years' worth of water from the Colorado River (Dam One Of). The presence of Hoover's seventeen generators and its vast water supply contributed to rapid urban expansion. These hydroelectric turbines produce an impressive four billion kilowatt hours of electricity each year.

According to the American Society of Engineers, the Hoover Dam has had a significant impact on the growth of the southwestern United States. It has effectively prevented flooding and supplied water for human use and agriculture. The dam also generates electricity for Arizona, Nevada, and California (Wassner 99). Surprisingly, despite heavily relying on power, Las Vegas only receives 1% of its power from the Hoover Dam. Due to its immense influence on American lives, it was awarded the title of Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has chosen to give special recognition to the Hoover Dam. This acknowledgement is due to the dam's significant role in establishing trust and expertise in the development and construction of large-scale water resource projects. The recognition was mentioned in an article published on September 27, 2001 by the American Society.

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