Gee, I never thought I’d need a topic category on Dams… Here’s a family vacation shot from a couple days ago, of my family walking in the oppressive desert heat around the Hoover Dam. Boy, that’s one impressive piece of infrastructure. (I’m sparing you the photo of the dam itself.) Seeing it for only the second time in my life (the last time, when I was a child), this time it fascinated me to think that Herbert Hoover could have such a ”big government” project named after him. (After all, in the Annie song “We’d Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover,” the folks singing weren’t exactly singing his praises for job creating government projects, and in a previous post I likened Hoover’s popularity to that of George W. Bush.) So I did some googling and was surprised to find out (from this PBS resource) that Hoover was very much responsible for the very successful Hoover Dam (”big government”) project, and that his success in promoting and managing the project as first Harding’s and then Coolidge’s Commerce secretary helped win him the presidency in 1928.
Obviously, whatever “success” Hoover achieved in seeing the Hoover Dam project through, it did not carry through to his presidency once the country fell into the Great Depression. Apparently the dam was renamed several times, starting out as the “Boulder Dam” then named the “Hoover Dam” in 1930, then renamed back to the “Boulder Dam” after Hoover lost to FDR in 1932. It became the “Hoover Dam” again in 1947.
What’s obvious today is that the Hoover Dam area still stands for “big government” infrastructure projects. My family was totally amazed to see the huge project going on now: the Hoover Dam Bypass Project. Here are a couple shots showing the bridge they’re starting to build from both sides of the huge gorge–a feat that already seems to defy the laws of physics.
From the traffic that passes through there at a snail’s pace now (especially with the new very heightened security at the Dam since 9/11), I have no doubt that this “bypass” will pass the cost-benefit test. (Curious about how the bypass project is being funded? Go here.)