|Photo by Ansel Adams, 1942|
“Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the US states of Arizona and Nevada. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was controversially named in honor of President Herbert Hoover.” (Wikipedi)
There were concerns during the construction of the dam. Nothing to this magnitude has ever been built before. It was an all concrete structure using unsafe methods to get the job done. The weather was scorching hot and the amenities were in short supply which made working on the dam increasingly difficult. Because the working conditions were deplorable, there were over 100 deaths reported during construction.
On the wall of the dam is the Oskar Hansen’s memorial which reads in part, “They died to make the desert bloom”. One death was that of J. G. Tierney, who was a surveyor. While looking for the perfect location for the dam, he drowned. He was considered the first of many to die having something to do with the dam’s construction. Sadly, his son, Patrick W. Tierney, die 13 years to the day after his father while working on the dam. They say that around 90 of the deaths were employees from the Six Companies, 3 were BOR employees, one was a visitor, and the rest were outside workers under contract.
Some of the deaths were noted as being pneumonia but the stories are told that this might be a cover up for workers dying from carbon monoxide poisoning. They used gasoline-fueled vehicles in the tunnels which leaked out the harmful toxins. These tunnels temperature would reach well over 140 degrees which surrounded the deadly fumes. Even though the working conditions were horrible and inhuman, the construction was finished on March 1, 1936, two years ahead of schedule.
With all the deaths at the Hoover Dam, you would think the place is haunted with the spirits of the many workers who lost their lives. There are several claims of paranormal activity in and around the dam. One area considered very haunted is near the canyon wall and across from the escalator. Apparitions have been seen yelling out or weeping. Disembodies voices and strange noises from unseen sources have been reported by workers and visitors. Some people taking pictures of the massive structure have seen strange shapes in their photos. Considering there were so many deaths at the dam especially during construction, I am not surprised the place has many of the lost souls still hanging around it.