‘Hoover Dam’ Was Originally Named ‘Boulder Dam’. That’s right, and it’s all here in the Hoover Dam Dedication Speech.

I’m adding some great photos of the Hoover Dam Project from ‘back-in-the-day’, just because I like them.

Doc Wymer, Las Vegas Tour Guide
  • Roosevelt’s Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) Dedication speech was front-page news in newspapers all over the country.
  • It was broadcast to a radio audience of millions of people.
  • 10,000 people braved 102-degree heat (39 degrees Celsius) to hear the Boulder Dam (Hoover Dam) speech in person.
Following is an excerpt of the Boulder Dam (Hoover Dam) Dedication Speech, broadcast by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the
Dedication of Boulder Dam Ceremonies, Sept. 30, 1935:

This morning I came, I saw and I was conquered, as everyone would be who sees for the first time this great feat of mankind.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt Tours and Speaks at Dedication of Boulder Dam, Sept. 30, 1935Boulder Dam - Hoover Dam Dedication Speech, hoover dam tours from las vegas

‘Boulder Dam’ was renamed ‘Hoover Dam’ by and Act of Congress in 1947

Ten years ago the place where we are gathered was an unpeopled, forbidding desert. In the bottom of a gloomy canyon, whose precipitous walls rose to a height of more than a thousand feet, flowed a turbulent, dangerous river. The mountains on either side of the canyon were difficult of access with neither road nor trail, and their rocks were protected by neither trees nor grass from the blazing heat of the sun. The site of Boulder City was a cactus-covered waste. The transformation wrought here in these years is a twentieth-century marvel.

Arrow Indicates Location of Hoover Dam in Black Canyon.black canyon and valley beyond, before hoover dam, before lake mead, hoover dam tours from las vegas

Notice the Colorado River winding through the distant valley – the valley floor you see there is now the bottom of Lake Mead.

We are here to celebrate the completion of the greatest dam in the world, rising 726 feet above the bedrock of the river and altering the geography of a whole region; we are here to see the creation of the largest artificial lake in the world – 115 miles long, holding enough water, for example, to cover the State of Connecticut to a depth of ten feet; and we are here to see nearing completion a power house which will contain the largest generators yet installed in this country.

Workers at Boulder Dam (Now Hoover Dam): ‘High Scalers’ Workers at Boulder Dam (Now Hoover Dam) - High Scalers, hoover dam tours from las vegas

The High-Scaler’s Job Was To Blast Rock From Walls of Black Canyon. Photo from Boulder City Museum and Historical Association

All these dimensions are superlative. They represent and embody the accumulated engineering knowledge and experience of centuries; and when we behold them it is fitting that we pay tribute to the genius of their designers. We recognize also the energy, resourcefulness and zeal of the builders, who, under the greatest physical obstacles, have pushed this work forward to completion two years in advance of the contract requirements. But especially, we express our gratitude to the thousands of workers who gave brain and brawn to this great work of construction.

We know that, as an unregulated river, the Colorado added little of value to the region this dam serves. When in flood the river was a threatening torrent. In the dry months of the year it shrank to a trickling stream. The gates of these great diversion tunnels were closed here at Boulder Dam last February. In June a great flood came down the river. It came roaring down the canyons of the Colorado, through Grand Canyon, Iceberg and Boulder Canyons, but it was caught and safely held behind Boulder Dam.

Hoover DamHoover Dam intake towers under construction, hoover dam tours from las vegas

Hoover Dam intake towers under construction

Across the San Jacinto Mountains southwest of Boulder Dam, the cities of Southern California are constructing an aqueduct to cost $220,000,000, which they have raised, for the purpose of carrying the regulated waters of the Colorado River to the Pacific Coast 259 miles away.

Across the desert and mountains to the west and south run great electric transmission lines by which factory motors, street and household lights and irrigation pumps will be operated in Southern Arizona and California.

Boulder Dam and the powerhouses together cost a total of $108,000,000. The price of Boulder Dam during the depression years provided for 4,000 men, most of them heads of families, and many thousands more were enabled to earn a livelihood through manufacture of materials and machinery.

And this picture is true on different scales in regard to the thousands of projects undertaken by the Federal Government, by the States and by the counties and municipalities in recent years.

Throughout our national history we have had a great program of public improvements, and in these past two years all that we have done has been to accelerate that program. We know, too, that the reason for this speeding up was the need of giving relief to several million men and women whose earning capacity had been destroyed by the complexities and lack of thought of the economic system of the past generation.

Hoover Dam, Colorado River, Hoover Dam Power PlantsHoover Dam Powerhouses, hoover dam generator rooms, seen from pedestrian walkway on the New Hoover Dam Bridge, hoover dam tours from las vegas

Hoover Dam Powerhouses viewed from pedestrian walkway on the New Hoover Dam Bridge

In a little over two years this great national work has accomplished much. We have helped mankind by the works themselves and, at the same time, we have created the necessary purchasing power to throw in the clutch to start the wheels of what we call private industry. Such expenditures on all of these works, great and small, flow out to many beneficiaries; they revive other and more remote industries and businesses. Labor makes wealth. The use of materials makes wealth. To employ workers and materials when private employment has failed is to translate into great national possessions the energy that otherwise would be wasted. Boulder Dam is a splendid symbol of that principle. The mighty waters of the Colorado were running unused to the sea. Today we translate them into a great national possession.

Today marks the official completion and dedication of Boulder Dam. This is an engineering victory of the first order – another great achievement of American resourcefulness, American skill and determination.

That is why I have the right once more to congratulate you who have built Boulder Dam… and on behalf of the Nation to say to you, “Well done.”


Above is an abridged version of the Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) Dedication Speech. Full text can be found on The American Presidency Project website

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