Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Las Vegas Ride Out - 06 March 2007 (2)

So we eventually got to the Hoover Dam and as spectacular a feat of engineering as it is, and it is very impressive, at the moment it looks like a giant building site as a very impressive bridge is being erected stretching across the valley high above the dam.
We had travelled through Nevada and we now parked up in Arizona to view the dam and the lake, Lake Mead. The view of the lake from the dam is impressive enough but later on in the journey we got to see the enormity of this resevoir and to think about the people who built the dam.
This is from Fortune Magazine, September 1933:
"ARTHUR POWELL DAVIS is the chief unsung hero of Boulder Dam. The others are the men who sweat out their days, and many of their nights, in Black Canyon. The Boulder Dam worker of 1933 is a national type of some importance. He is a tough itinerant American--the "construction stiff." His average age is thirty-three. His average wage is sixty-eight cents an hour. He is taller and heavier than the average U. S. soldier, runs a greater risk of losing his life, and has passed a more drastic physical examination. He has been in most of the states of the Union and can find his Way in a dozen different kinds of unskilled and semi-skilled labor--a hoist in a Pennsylvania coal mine, a saw in Oregon, a shovel on a dozen road jobs. He has boiled a string of mules in Bluejacket, Oklahoma - followed a pipe line as it crept across a prairie, a few yards a day, toward a town invisible behind a hill range. He is inured to ceaseless, frightful heat--and fearful cold, too, for that matter. Four or five of him in an old car can always get to a row of lights on Saturday night and if some four-flusher cops his roll or his girl it may be a fight or a laugh-what's the difference? He has earned $10 a day roughnecking on top of 110-foot oil rigs, driven a steam shovel, been slashed in a dance-hall fight, thought a lot about getting married. He is sentimental, moody, and literate; he does not believe he will ever be anything better than what he is, and isn't trying, regardless of the schoolbooks, the adage to "make your spare time pay," and the example of Abe Lincoln. He leaves some money every week or so in Block Sixteen, Las Vegas (legalized prostitution), but has enough left to send a money order to somebody somewhere once a month. He shares the universal superstition of miners that if a woman ever walks into a tunnel where you are working you'd better get out quick because there's going to be a cave-in. He keeps washed. He smokes a pack of cigarettes a shift. When he travels, he rides freights. He knows how to live in jungles, but has never begged. The most he ever had in his life was $5,000 after the pipe-line job but he hung it on a wrong deal and lost it. He likes hunting better than baseball, horse racing better than either. He'll pick a grudge, or smell bad luck, mosey out and hit the road or the rails, but while he works he is inspired with a devil of loyalty, shrewdness, and skill. He wears Friendly Five shoes, and sleeps seven hours a day. He is the man, as much as General Superintendent Crowe and U. S. Engineer-in-Charge Young, who is putting up this dam faster than anyone thought it could possibly be done."

To be continued ....