Guide to the Hoover Dam Construction Photograph Album

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Overview of the Collection

Title: Hoover Dam Construction Photograph Album
Dates: 1931-1934 ( inclusive )
1932-1934 ( bulk )
Quantity: 0.9 cubic foot, including 224 photographs (1 oversize box)
Collection Number: P 260
Summary: The Hoover Dam Construction Photograph Album consists of 224 photographs depicting the construction of Hoover Dam at various stages between 1931 and 1934.
Repository: Oregon State University Libraries, Special Collections & Archives Research Center
Contact Information: Special Collections & Archives Research Center
121 The Valley Library
Oregon State University
Corvallis OR
Telephone: 541-737-2075
Fax: 541-737-8674
Languages: Materials in English. 
Sponsor: Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical Note

The vision for a dam on the Colorado River began as early as 1902 with the establishment of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. In 1918 the Bureau of Reclamation recommended construction of a dam in the Boulder Canyon section of the river on the Arizona-Nevada border. The seven Colorado River Basin states signed the Colorado River Compact in November 1922, which eventually led to the 1928 Boulder Canyon Project Act. This act was signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge in December 1928 and the Boulder Canyon Project Act was declared effective in June 1929. The dam project was bid and the Six Companies, Inc., was awarded the contract in March 1931. Construction commenced soon after. The river was diverted around the dam site in November 1932 and the first concrete was poured in June 1933. In early 1935 the dam began impounding water, creating Lake Mead. The dam was completed later that year and dedicated in September 1935. Hydroelectric power generation began in October 1936. In 1947 the dam was renamed Hoover Dam in honor of President Herber Hoover. The final power generator was installed in 1961. Hoover Dam today is maintained and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation. (This information was abstracted from a chronology of the history of Hoover Dam on the Bureau of Reclamation's Hoover Dam web site

Content Description

The Hoover Dam Construction Photograph Album contains 224 black and white, mostly 8x10, photographic prints documenting the construction of Hoover Dam on the Colorado River on the Arizona-Nevada Border between August 1931 and October 1934. Depicted are photographs of the dam site at the beginning of construction, preparation of the site, and construction of the dam, spillway, intake towers, cofferdams and diversion tunnels, and hydroelectric infrastructure. The collection also contains photographs of construction workers in their company mess hall and the company store; portraits of Charles A. Shea, director of construction for the Six Companies; and a composite photograph of the officials of the Six Companies. The photographer(s) and the compiler of the album are not known.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on Use :  

Photocopying of images from the album to be done by University Archives staff.

Preferred Citation :  

Hoover Dam Construction Photograph Album (P 260), Oregon State University Archives, Corvallis, Oregon.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

The album is organized into two groups of photographs. The first group of 27 photographs, which starts with the second photograph in the album, contain dates and captions. The second group of 196 images are dated and arranged chronologically.

Acquisition Information :  

Collection was transferred to the University Archives from OSU's Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering in 2006.

Processing Note :  

Album pages reordered chronologically and interleaved with acid-free tissue paper.

Related Materials :  

The University of Nevada Las Vegas Special Collections houses a large collection of materials pertaining to Hoover Dam.


  • Corporate Names :
  • Six Companies.
  • United States. Bureau of Reclamation.
  • Geographical Names :
  • Boulder City (Nev.)
  • Colorado River (Colo.-Mexico)
  • Hoover Dam (Ariz. and Nev.)
  • Subject Terms :
  • Construction workers--Nevada--Boulder City.
  • Dams--Colorado River (Colo.-Mexico)--Design and construction.
  • Hydroelectric power plants--Hoover Dam (Ariz. and Nev.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Photograph albums.

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