• 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 »

  • Areas of Park Impacted by Storm Damage

    Strong storms rolled through Lake Mead National Recreation Area Aug. 3-4, causing damage to some areas of the park. Crews are working to restore the below locations. Debris may be present in other areas of the park, as well, especially in the backcountry. 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, through Sept. 11. This closure includes National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation lands. More »

  • Summer Fire Rules in Effect

    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?

Down River view of Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric installation at the time of its construction, presented massive challenges to its designers and builders, yet the project was completed in less than five years! Hoover Dam backed up the waters of the Colorado River to create Lake Mead.