Hoover and Davis Dams

Panorama of Hoover Dam

Bureau of Reclamation


Hoover and Davis Dam: Creating History

Two of the most influential developments in Western history rise from the Colorado River. Commonly known as Hoover Dam and Davis Dam, these iconic structures paved the way for supplying water and electrical power to our surrounding regions. Located about 70 miles apart between the borders of Arizona and Nevada, these dams created the reservoir famously known as Lake Mead and Lake Mohave respectively. Today, these massive features attract curious travelers from around the world looking to witness the building blocks of our Nation’s history.

Aerial of the Hoover Dam and the Colorado River bridge
Aerial of Hoover Dam and Colorado River Bridge (Mike O'Callaghan- Pat Tillman Bridge)

Bureau of Reclamation

Hoover Dam

In 1931 during The Great Depression, thousands of men from all over America traveled to southern Nevada’ Boulder Canyon area in hopes of finding work building a great dam on the Colorado River. They knew plans were in place to construct a dam to regulate flooding and control the mighty Colorado. As a secondary benefit, the dam was to supply electrical power first to its headquarters in Boulder City, then to California, and eventually Nevada and Arizona. For the first part of the project, the Colorado River water had to be transferred into tunnels drilled through the side of the canyon walls so construction of the dam could begin.

Over the next five years, over 4.4 million cubic yards of concrete and 88 million pounds of plated steel were used. And with the removal of loose rock from the canyon walls, the dam quickly became the largest of its time. Construction of the Dam and all its unique artistic and architectural features were completed in 1936. Boulder Dam, later renamed Hoover Dam, was crowned in later years by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders.

Currently a National Historic Landmark, the Hoover Dam continues to provide water and electricity while maintaining its original beauty and glimpses into this amazing feat of engineering and construction with the incredibly hard work by thousands of men. It’s a truly unique glimpse into history’s past.

Aerial of Davis Dam and power plant
Aerial of Davis Dam and power plant.

Bureau of Reclamation

Davis Dam

Constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation to meet the requirements of the 1944 Treaty with Mexico, Davis Dam was originally created to regulate the amount of water to be delivered downstream and eventually to Mexico. Located in Pyramid Canyon about 70 miles downstream from Hoover Dam, this zoned earth-fill dam consists of concrete spillway, powerplant, and intake structures. During its creation almost 4,000,000 cubic yards of materials were gathered from the surrounding area, 23 million pounds of reinforcing steel were used, and almost 600,000 cubic yards of concrete were dispersed between the dam, spillway, powerplant and other facilities related to the dam. With construction of Davis Dam, water flow and delivery operations were coordinated between Davis and Hoover Dam. The reservoir created below Davis Dam, known as Lake Mohave, is a very popular destination for travelers and offers miles of lakeside water activities and adjacent recreation trails allowing visitors to access historic Davis Camp and wide-open areas to explore.


The More You Know

  • The Hoover Dam was named after our 31st President, Mr. Herbert Hoover.
  • Men that climbed down the canyon walls on ropes to clear the sides of the canyon and remove loose rock were known as high scalers.
  • Boulder City, Nevada was created in the early 1930’s to provide dam workers and their families with homes during the duration of the project.
  • The highest known pay-rate for those working on the Dam was $1.25 per hour as an excavator operator
  • The men working on Hoover Dam had two days off a year: Christmas and the 4th of July.
  • 96 men died during their work in constructing Hoover Dam. The last fatality in 1935 (a worker) was the son of the first fatality (an original surveyor seeking the right dam site who drowned in 1922).

  • Davis Dam was named after Arthur Powell Davis - the director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1914 to 1932 for his courageous and visionary ways.
  • The War Production Board was responsible for putting a pause on construction due to the repeal of ratings needed to collect necessary building materials.
  • The Davis Dam and Powerplant facility cost approximately $67 million dollars to build.
  • Lake Mohave possesses recreation and habitat for wildlife and fish and endangered aquatic species and birds.

Last updated: December 15, 2022

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