Often heralded as one of the triumphs of American ingenuity, the Hoover Dam is impressively large, especially given the fact that it was made in the 1930s. The massive structure still provides water for 8 million people and power to cities in three different states. It also annually attracts over 1 million tourists.
But all this pride appears to have come at a heavy price. At least 112 deaths have been associated with the dam”s construction, 96 of which happened at the site itself. Although now considered a triumph, it”s important to remember that it started out as an experiment and a risky one at that.
The trickiest thing about creating the Hoover Dam was that nobody had ever made a Hoover Dam before. A concrete structure of this magnitude had never been attempted, and the techniques proposed were theoretical at best.
Many fatalities resulted from the fact that workers were not required to wear hard hats. That”s unfortunate, especially since debris was falling hundreds of feet onto them all day. Some crafty workers dipped their hats in tar, but for the most part, they had two options: learn to dodge the debris, or die.
The recorded death toll would”ve been much higher if the U.S. government counted deaths by carbon monoxide poisoning as official fatalities. Instead, people were told that workers were dying of pneumonia, even though nobody in the surrounding towns showed symptoms.
There have been rumors circulating for decades that bodies are entombed within the concrete. This has never been proven.
The Hoover Dam is also a popular suicide location. The problem (besides suicide in general) is that when people leap off the dam, they expect it to be an easy fall to the ground. In reality, you skid against the concrete wall before reaching the bottom. This slowly rips off your skin.
The darkness that surrounds the Hoover Dam doesn”t take away any of its power. The men who commissioned the structure and the men who agreed to build it knew that this was an extreme undertaking something that human beings had yet to do. Still, it”s useful to know the Hoover Dam”s dark secrets when you walk its brim with your jaunty tour guide.