• Sunset at Lake Mead's Boulder Basin

    Lake Mead

    National Recreation Area AZ,NV

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  • Important Notice to Mariners

    Lake Mead water elevations will be declining throughout the summer. Before launching, check lake levels, launch ramp conditions, changes to Aids to Navigation and weather conditions by clicking on More »

  • Goldstrike Canyon, Arizona Hot Spring Trails Temporarily Closed

    A temporary emergency closure is in place for Goldstrike Canyon and Arizona Hot Spring trails within Lake Mead National Recreation Area, beginning Aug. 1. This closure includes National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation lands. More »

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    Lake Mead NRA is now enforcing summer fire restrictions. Please click 'more' to learn about the rules for fire during our hot, dry season. More »

Dam Workers and their Families

"Big Bertha" the bus used to transport workers to the Hoover Dam site

"Big Bertha" transporting dam workers

UNLV Digital Collections

It was 1931 and the country was reeling from the effects of the Great Depression. When word got out that work could be had in Nevada where the dam would be built, the area was flooded with men and their families, hoping for a new start. At one point, there were over 5,000 men employed to construct the dam.

Living conditions for the families of dam workers was challenging, to say the least. Without enough housing for the thousands of workers, temporary communities sprouted up and down the canyon. Ragtown, located near the dam in Black Canyon, consisted of makeshift houses, tents, cardboard structures and canvas lean-tos. Summer temperatures in the canyon could get as high as 120°; imagine the difficulty in surviving in such conditions.

Did You Know?

Boating out of St Thomas

The pioneer town of St. Thomas, Nevada was flooded by the rising waters of Lake Mead in 1938. The 400 inhabitants had to find homes elsewhere. More...