Whenever I see a dam I’m always fascinated by how they managed to get built, because they’re always massive, they’re always really old and they always seem to have a hell of a lot of water on one side of them. How in the heck did anyone manage to build them?
Well, in the case of the Hoover Dam I might have some of the answers now, finally. The process took five years from 1931 – 1936 and several years of planning beforehand. It turns out they diverted the course of the river first by building three mile long diversion tunnels either side of it and then building huge berms or ‘cofferdams’ above and below the site.
Once they were installed the bedrock and walls of the riverbed were cleared of loose rock to ensure that they were solid and able to hold the volume of water that would be stored there effectively without any danger of anything bursting. When that stage had been completed the workers then started to pour concrete into rectangular plots called ‘lifts’. These were cooled through pipes filled with ice cold water and made up the bulk of the dam.
By the time the dam was completed in 1936, 3.25 million miles of concrete had been laid out and 112 people had died during the construction of the dam. Nevertheless, it remains standing and remains one of the greatest man made creations in the world – and still provides hydroelectric power for much of the area surrounding it.
This was obviously a highly simplified version of the story behind its construction, but a picture can speak 1000 words so why not peruse the gallery below and get a better idea of the blood sweat and tears that went into this fantastic creation.
If you enjoyed that then check out this video of a 57 storey building being built in 19 days over in China. Rapid.