Origins: Although a startling number of workmen were killed in the construction of Hoover Dam
(Agreement on the exact body count is hard to come by. The most common figure given is an official count of 96 and an unofficial one of 112.)
At first blush it might appear reasonable that a dead man would have been left where he fell on a project this big, but structural integrity of the dam had to be maintained at all costs if it was to withstand pressure later. Engineers would not have permitted even a
The dam contains 4,400,000 cubic yards of concrete. It was poured in sections of roughly a thousand cubic yards at a time, each of these slabs being allowed to set before the next was added. The 'cold joints' created by this sectioning were very deliberately factored into the engineering plans of the structure. Each segment took hours to pour, with the wet concrete arriving in buckets containing roughly eight yards of concrete each. Had someone lost his footing and fallen into the pour, he'd have easily righted himself or, if injured, been easily pulled from the wet mass by others.
Another famous engineering marvel of a bygone time is often rumored to have workmen buried in it.
Possibly rumors about bodies left in Hoover Dam originated with memories of a Montana dam construction tragedy being attributed to the larger, more famous structure in Nevada. Rumors do tend to migrate towards the most recognizable entry in any field, so it can be postulated that gruesome facts about the fatal slide at the Fort Peck Dam were later recalled as having to do with the Hoover Dam. Both dams are, after all, in the same part of the country and were built around the same time.
The Fort Peck Dam was erected in Montana between 1934 and 1940, and was at the time of its constuction the largest earth-filled dam in the world. On
Barbara "dammed shame" Mikkelson
Last updated: 18 January 2007
Dale, Rodney. The Tumour in the Whale. London: Duckworth, 1978. ISBN 0-7156-1314-6 (pp. 62-63). Morgan, Hal and Kerry Tucker. More Rumor! New York: Penguin Books, 1987. ISBN 0-14-009720-1 (pp. 112-113). Pearce, Jack. "Hoover Dam - Burying Some Persistent Rumors." The San Diego Union-Tribune. 7 April 1985 (p. G1).