• Sunset at Lake Mead's Boulder Basin

    Lake Mead

    National Recreation Area AZ,NV

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?

Lake Mohave in the Black Canyon Area

Long and narrow, Lake Mohave in Lake Mead National Recreation Area retains much of the feeling of the Colorado River. Between the confining walls of Black Canyon, Lake Mohave is not much wider than the Colorado River was when it flowed freely.