Millenium Countdown: 1935
Paper: Carson City Daily Appeal and Carson City News – 64 days to the millennium – Saturday, Sept. 28, 1935
Publisher: Ida B. Mighels
Editor: Elbert T. Clyde
Address: 102 E. Second St.
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Published daily except Sunday at Carson City.
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Hoover Dam stats
Cement: 3.2 million cubic yards
(enough to build a 5-foot-wide sidewalk from the North Pole to the South Pole)
Construction time: 46 months
(two years ahead of schedule)
Height: 726 feet
Width at top: 46 feet
Width at base: 660 feet
Cost: More than $175 million
Workers: 5,000 at peak
Injuries per day: 50
Boulder Dam magnificent in its desert gorge
By Kelli Du Fresne
Times were grim for people when the Sept. 28, 1935, edition of the Carson City Daily Appeal and News announced that Gov. Richard Kirman Sr. was headed south to Las Vegas to attend President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s dedication of the Boulder Dam.
Under the headline “Governor Kirman Will Meet the President At Boulder Dam” the paper wrote: Governor Richard Kirman, leaves today for Las Vegas and Boulder where he will welcome President Roosevelt to this state and participate in the dedication ceremonies.
A number of other Nevada state officials will take the trip to the southern part of the state to see the president and his party.
The Appeal then reprinted Kirman’s own proclamation. In part it read:
Whereas the Boulder Dam across the Colorado river has been completed at great expense to the federal government and is in party within the state of Nevada, and has furnished much employment to the people of this state during a time of unemployment and depression, thereby reliving in great measure the situation of unemployment, and depression, within this state, and added to the prosperity of our people, and we expect this great project, the greatest of its kind in the world, to be of lasting benefit to our people.
Kirman also noted Roosevelt’s visit by declaring the day a holiday for state offices. He did staff the highway department with one person to answer the phones, but the building was closed to the public.
America was five years into the Great Depression. In the years before 1935, the prospect of employment was enough for more than 5,000 hungry and jobless Americans to call the desert of Nevada home.
President Roosevelt came to the desert Sept. 30, 1935, to dedicate the Boulder Dam.
A vision which began after the catastrophic flood of 1905 was finally made reality.
In its creation came the metropolis of Boulder City, the economic boom which in part led the way for the Las Vegas of today and a hope for the thousands who toiled in the desert sun to see their work become history.
Originally set to be built in Boulder Canyon, the actual site was chosen in Black Canyon. By 1947, people believed that President Herbert Hoover’s work to build the dam merited recognition and the name Boulder Dam was changed to Hoover Dam by an act of Congress in March 4, 1947.
In “Hoover Dam An American Adventure,” Joseph Stevens writes: “Most had come here thinking only of making a living; now for the first time (Roosevelt’s dedication), they began to sense that they had made history too.”
Roosevelt called the dam “an engineering victory of the first order – another achievement of American resourcefulness, skill and determination. That is why I have the right once more to congratulate you who have created Boulder Dam and on behalf of the nation to say to you, ‘Well done.'”
After his speech, Roosevelt evaded the secret service and was stuck in Lee Canyon.
In “Building Hoover Dam, An Oral History of the Great Depression,” John Cahlan remembered that Sen. Key Pittman’s request to view a Work Project Administration project led to the U.S. being without a president for about an hour and a half.
Cahlan said: “Senator Key Pittman, the senior senator from Nevada and a powerful figure in Washington, insisted that the president must see what the WPA had accomplished in Nevada. So nothing would do but that the president should go. I don’t know that he wanted to go up, but the people wanted to take him up to see it. And he was not averse to going, because he had a couple of hours to waste before his train left.
“They ducked (the president’s secret) service protection outfit and took off in a motor caravan to Lee Canyon. They drove to the end of the road, and there was no way to turn the automobile around. they were stuck up in the mountains. Mrs. Roosevelt didn’t know where (the president) was; the Secret Service people didn’t know where he was. So for about and hour and a half, the United States didn’t have any president.
“Finally the chauffeur of the automobile said, “If you’ll get the president out of the automobile, I’ll get it turned around.” Because of the president’s handicap, this was an embarrassment to everyone. They got him out, sat him on one of the big rocks out there. This driver that they had jackassed that (car) around until he finally got it turned around and headed in the right direction.”
Work to tame the Colorado River began in April 1931 with the construction of train tracks and diversion tunnels. Four 56-foot tunnels were carved out of the mountain side where the Colorado River serves as the boundary between Nevada and Arizona.
Construction of the dam took four and a half years, the first two spent diverting the water to allow for the dams construction and the last two spent dumping bucketfuls of cement, 5 million of them, to form as Joseph Stevens called “the vaulting arch of concrete, stark and gleaming in its desert gorge.”
Another writer said the technical challenges were “enough to send Hercules himself packing.”
Today it produces enough electricity for about 500,000 homes.