An American icon on the Fourth of July

There are many things that represent the profound, ambiguous complexity that is the United States of America – full of ambitious arrogance, profound success and the inevitable clumsiness when power combines with unintended consequences. Hoover Dam is one of them.

Hoover Dam, courtesy USBR

Hoover Dam, courtesy USBR


  1. I saw this photo hanging in our local barber shop two days ago and told the barber the story behind the photo. Since you posted it — will also tell it here.

    Every photo has a story. This one has one also. The flag was hung on one morning for the 1996 Olympics. I believe that the torch was being passed over the dam during the run across America. The flag was hung by 8 AM and the photo taken by Reclamation photographer Andy Pernick.

    Then the wind kicked in. The flag was quickly taken down before any damage or injury could happen. By 9 AM, it was taken down.

    I wonder if Andy realizes that he took an epic shot that will be remembered for years?


  2. Something else about Hoover Dam & the 4th of July:

    Erma Godbey:

    “Tom got a job with Mr. Le Tourneau, and so he went to work the very next day, the fourth of July, just with a shovel. The men would go to work, and so many of the men were passing out with heat stroke that they decided that they would go to work at 4:00 in the morning and work until noon. Nobody worked from noon until 4:00 p.m. because that was the heat of the day. Another crew come on at 4:00 and worked till midnight with searchlights. At that time they didn’t know anything about taking extra salt, and people were sweating out all the salt in their bloodstream, and they were passing out.”

    “We had been camping down in the river bottom, and there had been 3 women die right around me the twenty-sixth day of July.” [The first construction workers at the dam site were forced to live on the floor of Black Canyon. Living conditions there were not suitable to human habitation. Temperatures sometimes reached 125 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer of 1931. Strong winds, cloudbursts, and flooding were other natural conditions of the area.- -ed.]

    Quoted from here:

    The things we take for granted.


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