The Hoover Dam has been up and running for 83 years and is one of the US’s most recognizable attractions, but its construction came at a hefty price, and its legacy is fitting for a landmark built during the Great Depression.

Dam it all

Built in the Black Canyon on the Colorado River at the border of Nevada and Arizona, the Hoover Dam was originally named the Boulder Dam after the nearby city of Boulder, Nevada. In 1947, Congress renamed it the Hoover Dam after President Herbert Hoover. The dam was initially constructed to divert water from the Colorado River for hydroelectric power and to control flooding. Like many engineering marvels, the Hoover Dam also contains an area for tourists to visit and learn the dam’s history.

A project of sacrifice

While the technical specs of the Hoover Dam are undoubtedly fascinating to some, most people would find the drama and tragedy behind the dam’s construction far more interesting. For the few of you out there, you’ll be excited to learn that the reservoir created by the dam can hold a staggering 32 cubic kilometers, which is just less than twice the volume of the Great Salt Lake. For everyone else, we have some slightly more sobering statistics.

A total of 112 deaths are attributed to the Hoover Dam’s construction, several of which occurred during pre-construction surveys of the area. The first death happened in 1922 during one of several geological survey missions along the Colorado River. J. G. Tierney was assessing the canyon when he fell into the river and drowned. Another surveyor, Harold Connelly, faced the same fate. During the construction of the dam, three workers took their own lives, and many more died from falling rocks, heat stroke, and other industrial accidents. Several others who were injured on-site later died in hospitals but were not counted in the final tally because they weren’t at the construction site at the time of their death. The last fatality at the dam site was that of Patrick Tierney, son of the unfortunate J. G. Tierney, whose life ended when he fell from an intake tower.