How the Hoover Dam Works, Part I


On the next Ron burgundy podcast. This is actually exciting. You got Mr Peter Dinka GE he's Chang's impersonal poetry, actually. So a lot of people actually find poetry interesting. The sound machine away series thrown of games game of thrones Ron in any surprises. We can expect from Tylenol Lancaster, curious minister. Iheart radio is number one for podcasts. And it's easy to see. Why? Find the Ron burgundy podcast on the iheartradio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Welcome to step. You should know a production of I heart radio. How stuff works? Hey, welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark whose child Chuck Bryant news, Jerry Roland over there. And if you put all three of us together, you get a little something called stuff, you should know. Oh, man. AM addition Hoover. Have you ever been to Hoover dam? I've been there twice. Oh show. Yeah. I went I went in ninety one. The great Hoover dam tour of ninety one. Sure either. It may have been eighty nine almost custody. Then I heard that. I almost did that the other day to get into movie crush sure, it may have been eighty nine or ninety. It was when I went out to visit my brother when he lived in L A, and we met in Las Vegas rove down to the Hoover dam and then back to LA. So the first time you guys met. Yeah. It was great. And then I went again in ninety six for sure ninety six and McKay, I think both times I took the tour. And it's have you ever been? It's really something else. Yes. For the first time. You mean, I went about a year ago, we drove from Scottsdale to Vegas in stopped in Hoover dam on the way. And it was great as you do. It was very very well. There's nothing nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Hoover dam Vegas is kinda how it goes. Yeah. In, you know, we'll get to the water levels. But it's it's startling from. When I was there. What it looks like now? Yeah. I can imagine like if you gone anytime before about two thousand from what I understand it's like a different different place. Yeah. But the the damn still there, and it's still intact doing really well. You got that? At least right? It's just the ecological catastrophe. That's kind of looming that kind of is a Downer. That's right. And we should give a big shoutout to Julia. Layton, new used to be one of the great great writers for how stuff works dot com. Back when we were still associated with that website. I think she might still right for McKay. Generally. I really well. She's great. And now, we are commissioning some articles from her and boy, she's good. Yes. She is. So what's her nickname? Check the lates. Julia Layton lates. No. Because it sounds like she's not tardy. Oh, yeah. That's right. Let's just call her Dr Layton. Okay. There you go. Although I don't think she's a doctor, but she does have her masters in writing. That's right. So we better than me. She cranks out some good stuff. That's right. So thanks, Julia. I'm glad you call that out Chuck well done. So let's go back, shall we to a time in the the little the little area of the southwestern United States where Arizona reaches out to hug, Nevada, Nevada which way are we supposed to say, well, we're supposed to say Nevada, but we're not from there. So we'll say Nevada like everybody else, right? And where they almost meet there's a little gorge there's a canyon. Well, there's a lot of kings. But there's one in particular and it's called boulder canyon. And if you went to boulder canyon today to find the Hoover dam, you'd be SOL because while they were originally going to build the Hoover dam at boulder canyon so much so that the name of the project for the first decade or so it was called the bolder boulder dam. This bowl boulder wants not to boulders the boulder dam project. They actually moved it a little further upstream too much more suitable site called black canyon. And if you go visit the Hoover dam today. That's where you're actually going is black canyon where Nevada and Arizona almost meet. That's right. And this idea was conceived this concrete, gravity arch hydroelectric dam hydroelectric almost almost there. Hydro electric, excuse me. This was all conceived because well for three reasons plus a cherry on top one is that the Colorado river had had a bad habit of flooding and causing lots of devastation just a nasty boy so to to LASSO that that beast number two to create water in times of drought, as you know, creating a big reservoir that would be lake Mead to create energy. I love things that kill all these birds. You know, that's how many Denver lovebirds. And then finally the little cherry on top those were the three big reasons they did it but the cherry on top. It turns out has been lake me. Tourism is huge. Yeah. I think lake Mead was the first nationally designated recreation area. Oh, yeah. Yeah. It sounds almost Soviet doesn't it like the government's like this is where you recreate exactly I'm this particular designated late traveled to the funds zone. So. Yeah. The first one I think there's like this. This is the nineteen twenties. I think when the project is really starting to gain steam and the guy who is the secretary of commerce at the time. Herbert Hoover who had very soon be the president of the United States who had very shortly. After that be like the most hated man in America. Hoover was like this is a great idea. There's like this whole spot of land down in the lower United States. And it just wants to be so much more than than it is wants to be cropland. It wants to be cattle pasture at wants to be a big old city like LA or Vegas. They're just waiting to pop, but they really are having trouble with water and with flooding like, it's it's weird. It's like the Colorado river would be like not enough sorry, and then up too much way more than you ever wanted. And because of this kind of mercurial nature of it. There is just not a lot that could be done with the southwest unless. You figured out a way to tame that that river, and you know, like you were saying, that's what the the Hoover dam was originally intended to do. And that's definitely what it did. I mean, just to to kind of let the cat out of the bag early. It was successful as far as they in projects. Go. Yeah. And just to clear something up when you just said Herbert Hoover said big cities like LA in Vegas. He had a crystal ball on Vegas because they was cow town back then. Yeah. Population five thousand at around nineteen thirty. Yeah. They didn't people didn't wanna go there until gambling started happening. They did have gambling. They had gambling. They had prostitution. They. Yes. They had well drinking. I guess casinos. Right. Thanks to what's his name Bugsy. Yeah. Bugsy was one of the first one I think so he wasn't defer Swazi. I mean, I saw that movie in if I remember correctly, Warren Beatty built that. Lem Ingo casino and hotel and that was kind of the first major casino not mistaken. That sounds like a guy who deserves his own episode of stuff, you should know who Bugsy or or Warren Beatty Bugsy. Okay. Warren Beatty, maybe gets a short stuff. So the man what a cut burn it's better than just ignoring his existence. That's true. So the Colorado river like we said, it's the seventh longest in the US about close to fifteen hundred miles of total flow and. I believe that it distributes water that the river itself and then its tributaries to about twenty five million people fifteen percent of the crops in the US and thirteen percent of the livestock, drink its water in the United States. It does now Walter so before this before the Hoover dam project when the Colorado just did whatever the Colorado wanted to do it's not like the people of the south west had had not tried to tame it before they had extensive irrigation canals in ditches, and dikes and earthworks and everything they could think of to keep the river going this way or that way and to keep it from flooding, and none of it worked. I mean, it would work some like, yes, an era Gatien canal at work, and you could hear get your cups. But eventually the river was gonna flood 'em because you had diverted the river toward your cropland when it flooded, it flooded that irrigation. Ditch and it flooded your cropland to which was a real problem. For you. Because it would when eventually it would recede. You might have a lot more dirt than you used to probably pretty fertile dirt. But your crops would be gone. Maybe some of your cows got carried away you might have lost your ten gallon hat. It's not a good deal when you're cropland gets flooded. And so this is kind of what was going on when they were trying to tame the Colorado's just way too big of a project for, you know, a handful of even large scale farmers to to take on which is one reason why the the federal government stepped in because at the time there was really no entity that could take on a project like this. And even then there were a lot of questions like, I'm not even sure the US government can handle this kind of thing. And the government says, oh, well, watch watching learn suckers. Yeah. So it's nineteen eighteen when the US bureau of reclamation said all right? I think we can build a dam of all dams. We're gonna make it a gravity arch design. I think that can. Handle the Colorado river, and we're going to have tunnels and turbines in towers, and we're going to prevent flooding, and we're going to deliver water to people and the best news is we're going to create well, all that's great news. But more great news is we're going to create energy for a ton of people such that this thing will even pay for itself in fifty years time, and like you said a lot of people. I mean, this is nine hundred eighteen and a lot of people like, I don't even engineers were saying, I don't know if this is possible, right? And so not only were people incredulous that it was even possible. There's seven states that draw water from the Colorado river, which is a pretty long river. It goes it starts in the rocky mountains. That's where it's fed by snow melt up there. And then it goes all the way down to Mexico and so seven states laid claim on water. They need water from the Colorado river to live to irrigate their crops to feed their livestock. It's the kind of like the main artery for life in in the south west or one of them. And when they found out that people in the seven states found out the US government was was wanting to dam and control the river. They got really worried that really this was just a project to divert all that beautiful water over to California because California had it going on the late twenties early mid twenties already. Thanks to Los Angeles thinks well, thanks to Los Angeles. But it had a lot of potential, and it was growing San Francisco tube. Sure knows. It was sure it was growing in between those two those two cities. And so the the people in New Mexico, and Colorado and Arizona and Nevada were really worried that this was really just the federal government stepping in and saying, thanks a lot. We're gonna take this water and send it off to California and Herbert Hoover actually intervened and said, no, no, no how about this before we even get this project underway. We will broker a deal for how. The water from the Colorado river gets distributed. And I'm Herbert Hoover. I'm going to be the most hated man in the world. So I'm going to actually purposely inflate the the capacity that this reservoir will hold. So that no one feels like they're they're gonna get left out and everybody ended up signing on. So that was technically stepped negative one or maybe step zero before the the plan was even fully adopted by the government. Yeah. And it was called the Colorado river compact, and again, it was just to make. I think the only ones left out where Utah and Wyoming and then the other five and they said, all right? The way the portion it looks good to us. California's like, we all know that we're really going to get the most water, right? And they was like totally don't worry about it. Everyone's gonna hate me soon and many people will hate California one day to. And so congress said this looks great was push forward. Despite the fact, I don't think we mentioned yet that the private sector. Of course. I mean, if you think the private sector, and the government have been it's like a newish thing that they're arguing over stuff like this think again because since the dawn of time in the United States, the government and the private sector have squabbled, and so obviously private power companies in in water companies and just everybody was like, geez. I don't like the sounds of this like the government's gonna start getting into the electricity business, but regardless it had no choice. Congress approved the boulder dam project like you said that later moved to black canyon and for many many years. It was kind of bounce back and forth between boulder dam and then Hoover dam. They officially called it. Hoover dam in nineteen thirty one. But like you said four times who. Hoover people didn't like him when he left office. So they went let's call it the boulder dam again. And then it took a congressional resolution in nineteen forty seven to finally bring it back and give Hoover his do. Right. And the reason why people hated Hoover, especially right after he left office like he was super conservative president. He believed that the federal government should intervene in business in in personal fares as little as possible. So in the grips the worst parts of the great depression. The greatest economic recession has ever hit the world. He was literally vetoing bills that would give federal assistance to Americans. So he was very much hated and reviled by the average person and just about everybody when he when he was soundly defeated by FDR. I think in nineteen thirty two. Sounded so uneasy. Nineteen thirty to the nineteen thirty ish election. So obviously, if you're going to undertake a project in a word contracts to two companies to build this thing, there's probably not one company that can tackle something like this. That has all the different skills necessary to build something like the Hoover dam, so six actually companies six big big construction firms got together and formed. What was called wait for it? The six companies right in nineteen thirty one and they served as the kind of mega construction firm that undertook this huge huge project. Yeah. They bid the project out at like forty eight point eight million dollars, which is so funny to think about now, Mike a little money. A little money for something like this. Yeah. Even when you adjust for inflation. It's still a surprisingly low amount. It comes out to about eight hundred million dollars. And it's like the federal government today spends billion dollars like it's nothing. Yeah. This is like a huge deal that the federal government government was spending the equivalent of today's eight hundred million dollars. But one reason why they went with the six companies consortium is because the bureau of reclamation. This is the department that oversaw the project they had calculated the cost themselves and the six companies bid was only about twenty four thousand dollars more than the six company or than the bureau of reclamation had estimated the project would cost how much about twenty four grand over chump change. Right. So they were like all right. If you want to build this whole project for twenty four thousand dollars have add it, and I mean, obviously, they were six legitimate major construction companies and then all of them combined together form one super concern. Instruction company. So they seem to be pretty comfortable with this consortium, and from everything I can tell unless you're a worker's rights kind of person this this company their faith in this consortium was well placed because they did have a pretty good job saving. Maybe one major mistake which will get to later. It was a it's a pretty good government construction project. If you ask me public private agreed ship. All right. I feel like we should take a break now and come back and talk about infrastructure ready for this. Attention everyone. Stop what you're doing because it's time for our stamps dot com. That's right. We know you're busy. And you know, you don't have time to go the post office. No, get it to real hassle. That's why stamps dot com we'll swoop in on their white horse to save the day. Yep. Stamps dot com brings all the amazing services of the US postal service right to your computer. Whether you're sending invoices or shipping out products. All you do is use your computer to print official US postage twenty four seven for any letter any package any class of male anywhere. You want to send once it's ready handed off to your friendly, mail carrier, drop it in a mailbox. It's that simple. As right everyone. Save time and money to day. Get a special offer that includes a four week trial plus free postage and a digital scale with no long term commitments, just go to stamps dot com. Click on the microphone at the top of the homepage and type in stuff that stems dot com. Enter stuff. All right. So we're back, and we'll take a couple of years, obviously, you're not going to dive into a project like this right away. Because you can't back then because of where it was located. And if you think about it. Like part of the problem with this project from the beginning was its location and how isolated the the southwest was from other like major parts of the US at the time. And so they were like, wait a minute. We're not close to anything like Vegas only is the closest place. It has five thousand people that doesn't really help us much. It's like, you know, twenty thirty miles away. So here's what we're going to have to do. We're going to have to build a town. That's really close by for all of our employees and our workers to live. And so they did just that. I think this was about six miles away. They literally constructed a city called boulder city, right? West of the dam site. It had a seven hundred and fifty eight cottages. If you were married in worked or had a family, or whatever it had nine dormitories for single men. I imagine that was a wild scene. They had a hospital. They headed department store they had laundry they had a school. They had a post office. They had liquor stills. And that was really go, by the way. Sure. Of course, this depression are prohibition, right? But they needed their booze. Like, let's be honest. And this the city actually remained under government control until nineteen Fifty-nine when it got its own Inc. Which is kind of crazy. Yeah. The the the Hoover dam was dedicated like the project was done basically by nineteen thirty eight nineteen thirty nine I think they're still working out buildings and stuff for a little while. But for twenty years after a lot of the people who had built the dam where like I really like this bowler cities on I'm going to stay here. And one of the reasons why you would stay there is because like the government ran the town. There were no elected officials. There was a an appointed bureau of reclamation department like administrator that was like the defacto mayor of the town. And like if there was something wrong with your house, Bure reclamation workers would come fix it like, your sink or paint, your house, or whatever you have to do anything because the government is. Like federal land. And finally in nineteen. What did you say fifty nine fifty nine? The government was like all right. Freeloaders you can paint your own houses from now on this is your place, and they incorporated it into a city in nineteen sixty. I guess yeah. And it's still one of two cities in Nevada that say no gambling here, which is pretty unique, you know, at the at the height of this project to Chuck boulder city which hadn't existed just a couple of years before. Like, it wasn't like they took over an existing city up this. There was nothing there before and they build a city from scratch. It was had the biggest population in Nevada at the time. Yeah. More than Vegas by by a few hundred people, I believe all right? So they built I mean, this is keeping mind again this before they can even get started on this damn they say we got to build the city we got to build seven miles of highway. We gotta build twenty three miles of railway. We got to build bring in two hundred miles of power lines. And we have to bring in cable ways spanning this canyon. And it's just all this massive amounts of infrastructure to tackle this project where they were going to be paying dudes fifty cents to a dollar twenty five an hour, which is between eight bucks and twenty bucks an hour in today dollars, right? What's ironic is the the harder and the more dangerous your job typically, the the less you were paid kind of today. Kind of. Yeah. So there is a a group called the muckrakers. And they were the ones who had to like get the stone in the sludge and all that stuff out of the canyon bottom, and they got paid the the least even though they were the most. Exposed to like, falling rocks and volleying items. And apparently like following stuff was a real danger on this project. Yeah, we'll we'll get to that later. But okay out of noggins suffered right? So then the other thing that they had to do. They're like, all right. We got the city built we've got all these highways got all the stuff, we all these people. We've got a good plan there like we need to do something with this river because you can't just start stacking rocks and divert the Colorado river, so they literally had to come up with a plan to reroute. The Colorado river while they built this thing. I hadn't thought about that. I I'm sure you knew about it two times over from your double visits in the tour. Did you? Now, did you just drive across it? No we walked around. We didn't take one of sexual like tours tours seventeen bucks. I'm sure I know most as this guy. But no, no. I mean, like, we took the whole thing. And we were there for a couple of hours, but it was self guided tour about that, I got you. Yeah. That's great. It had never occurred to me. And I didn't learn on the self guided tour that we just made up ourselves that that that you would have to divert the river that the river was still going through black canyon at the time. And you just couldn't build the damn there while the river was trying to get through there. Never a lot of stuff you could do so to to divert the river. They did some really ingenious stuff, and if you step back and look at it from like, the the eyes of like like a child it's really just two three four steps building. This damn true. If you really look at it super high level or super, I guess childlike again, I in all of them make total sense. But just the audacity of saying, yeah, we can do that. Yeah. Add that extra step on before we get started. It's it really kind of goes to the heart of like. Just what an amazing civil engineering project. This was. Oh, yeah. So like with any damn if you want to divert that water, you're gonna have to go upstream a certain amount, and they have very smart engineers figure out exactly where to do this. And in this case, they built cofferdams which is a very common thing to do when you want to build a dam downstream. It's basically sort of like a big hole in the river that the water would just flow into these. So the water instead of going downstream dumps into these cofferdams, and then it funnels that water into these four tunnels to each side of the canyon under the canyon. Instead of between them diverting everything around too. Then rejoin the other, you know, those those tunnels rejoin each other as the Colorado river once again, downstream, right, and the I think the cofferdam is actually kind of like a like an earthworks like a wall inside the water. Yeah. It's a big hole. Ol- you boil you pump the water out you kind of make it a whole. But yeah. So so this these tunnels that they diverted this to Chuck or a combined four miles four miles of tunnel. So each each tunnel was about a mile because there were four of them through the canyon rock, which was granite. And they dug out these tunnels as am Bill. The cofferdam just to start the whole thing not as part of the larger project, but this is like to to just to get started. That was the first thing they had to do. Yeah. There were fifty feet in diameter like these were not small tunnels. They had to be lined with three feet of concrete. The hold up. And I think the water was was racing through those at a rate of two hundred thousand cubic feet per second. So it's amazing. That's one hundred thirty six Olympic sized pools per minute passing through there. Yeah. I mean, this would be remarkable today. Dude, you know, for sure. And as we'll see those those things are still in operation, although they they use them differently now. But yeah, the that's that's just a ton of water and they said, Yep. Success? It worked we diverted this water down further downstream because you know, the tunnels ended below the dam project site, and then all of a sudden the Colorado river have been diverted around the dam and now they could get started. Right. And so they're like, all right. We feel like they could just quit now. Because what we did was pretty awesome. But we don't have a damn yet. So in this huge canyon, we need if we're going to build a dam we need to make these wall smooth because they were you know, it was a canyon. It was just jagged rock, and you can't just fill in a bunch of concrete against this. Jack. David rock. They had these abutment that are going to secure this huge concrete slab to the canyon walls. So they had to smooth these things out and that was done by. I mean, I want to say the most dangerous job, but it's kinda hard to pick. But the high scaler are definitely up there as far as danger goes if you go to the Hoover dam site today, there's a statue of a high scaler to guy like on a rope with like a tool bag hanging from me. He's like scaling down the side of the the Kenya wall. And that's exactly what they did. Because if you're trying to clear, the canyon walls, and you're talking, you know, you're seven hundred feet up between the bottom of the canyon and the canyon rim. You got a lot of rock that you're trying to get out of there. It's not easy. You can't just, you know, hit it with a poll in in private loose gift. A blast it loose. Actually, they did it with poll SU sure, but to no avail, they spent a good year and a half trying that and. Thing happened. But the the I'm totally joking about that, by the way, okay? To to blast. It though. Chuck you have to drill a hole and then put the dynamite in and then blast it. But if you're trying to drill a hole somewhere, you know, halfway between the canyon ridge in the Kenyan bottom you have to have a guy on a rope. Who is willing to swing down there heaven jackhammer forty-four pound Jack hammered lowered to him. And then it's real a hole with the jackhammer suspended from the edge of the canyon into the into the mid air. And then packet full the dynamite light get out of the way, let the blast happened and then come back and then use a pole the pride of the rocks loose with these guys had to do in. If you wanna know how jackhammers work everybody. Let me tell you. We have maybe our best episode ever in. It wasn't a shears is Jackie. It was the worst one that we've ever done. There's no question like the sun. Ah? Ha, you know, it was terrible jackhammers was actually bad. At least the sons an interesting thing. Right, right point. All right. So they're they're blasting these things out. These dudes believe it or not did not even have hard hats at the time. They were not supplied with hard hats. No. And that's one big criticism of the six six companies consortium that they did not care about workers rights. There was a strike that happened in nineteen thirty one and the guy running the show for the six companies. Name was Frank Crowe. They call them. Hurry. Up crow. He fired everybody just fired everybody in bought in new workers. They didn't get hard hats until they basically said we're not gonna work anymore unless you give us hard head. So you head to make their own hats by taking soft hats, which I guess just a hat, and then putting it in like coal tar and letting it like molten coal tar, and then letting it cool and all of a sudden you had like a homemade hard hat and finally the companies just like all right? You're making us look. Dad? We'll we'll get some actual ones. But it took like a little while before they had any any actual hardhats onsite. Yeah. The those homemade ones are called hardboiled hats, and they really actually worked another thing. You sent said that some of the the rocks falling on these hardboiled hats, their their head would be fine. But it would be such force. It would actually break their jaw. So these they worked these hardboiled hats actually worked. But I imagine they they wanted the real thing you'd be like, I can think still. And they would do tricks and stuff like in their downtime. They would you know, a lot of these people were I mean, not a lot. But some of them are like circus workers, right and people like former military that could do this kind of thing apparently between working they would fly around and do little highwire tricks and stuff, basically and native Americans to and you always hear about when the skyscrapers were built they'd be like we just hired a bunch of native Americans, and they'll run all over steel beams as much as you please without any fear. And I've always wondered why that's the case. And is it is it it's gotta just be some sweeping generalization that native Americans aren't afraid of heights, obviously. But like are there specific tribes that were exposed to things like cliff walls for generations and generations, and that they became used to these dizzying heights. So that it wasn't a big deal. And those are the same tribes that you know, made their way out to New York to build the skyscrapers to I got to get to the bottom of that one. Or maybe they were. Just tough and not scared of anything that just didn't let on. Yeah. It's possible. But there we have to we have to tell this one's the story of Burl are Rutledge though, man. Yeah. Like like, I almost faint just just reading about it. I'm sure because you don't love heights. No. I don't know height. So let's just go over this one more time if you were in the canyon rim of the the boulder dam Hoover dam project at the time, you were a more than seven hundred feet above the bottom of the canyon, which frontiers purposes is straight down. That's like a sixty storey building. Basically, it's a really really big height. And you can sense it man when you're there and Hoover dam, if you haven't been go, it's totally worth the trip for sure, especially if you're in Las Vegas, but. There was a guy named Berle Rutledge who was one of the engineers for the bureau reclamation. And I guess he lost his footing or something. And he fell off off the canyon rim on his way down to the canyon. Bottom a sixty storey building below him. That's right. And then, thankfully, he either had a former circus worker or somebody who was just very brave name Oliver Cowan about twenty five feet below apparently heard this. I guess it calls a bit of a commotion and swung himself out. He's hanging in. It's called abortion. See this sort of like a little sling seat. Right. He rushes over as fast as he can go swinging out and grabs this guy's leg as he sliding down the canyon wall, and then another high scaler name, Arnold parks. Then swings over, you know, help some pin is body to the wall, and they held him there until they could drop a line and pull him up. I if I were relegated have been like just let me go. Let me go. I can't stand this. I'm so scared. Josh, we've really got you. You know, you're. All over. I've never going to be the same again. Well, that's probably true. You would just moved to the to the lowest place in the continue, contiguous United States. I can't imagine what the rest of borough Rutledge is day was after that. I'll bet it was good. I bet he drank a lot. I hope it was a good day. Yeah. But yeah. So that happened like that like the thing that everyone's imagination thinks of when you think of a bunch of people doing construction work on a Kenyan ledge that happened in it actually penned up pretty well for borough Rutledge at least all right, man. I think it's time for a message break agreed. Hey, everyone do you ever want to twenty fifth hour in the day? But we can't do that. But if you listen to the podcast before breakfast hosts, Lauren Vander Cam can help you get a little bit more out of every day. Yeah. That's because Laura knows what she's talking about. She's the author of several time management and productivity books including Juliet school of possibilities off the clock and one hundred sixty eight hours, and these are tips that have worked for her for people. She admires or that she's learned from feedback from listeners like you. So they're time-tested. That's right. You can learn things like how to find more time to read how to make better small talk. How to savor the good moments in life. How to not be late? That's a big one. Why planning your week on Fridays is better to wake up everyone with before breakfast every weekday morning just like that first Cup of coffee. It'll help you feel like you can take on the world one productivity tip at a time. That's before breakfast on the iheartradio app or wherever you listen to podcasts. All right. So dudes are dying though, I saw anywhere between like ninety three to ninety six to one hundred people died total in the whole project, which all things being equal for what they were doing is that high of a number one hundred lives is a lot though to be lost on civic engineering project. Yes, high as one hundred twelve and the the six companies again, they weren't exactly known for having like the loosest pockets, if you file the some sort of health claim against them for you know, an injury or an illness sustained working on the job. There was I think like thirty six forty two people associated with the project died of pneumonia. But I think the Las Vegas star did an investigation either years later at the time and said there were basically, no deaths back boulder city of pneumonia. If there was no Monja would have been going around boulder city. And we think that really pneumonia is just a code word from the six companies for carbon monoxide poisoning because the six companies wanted to cover it up. So they didn't didn't have to pay out any, you know, money to the family because they accidentally killed the the dad with carbon monoxide poisoning because he was working all day alongside like a a diesel engine in one of these, you know, mile long tunnels. Yeah. So that was the kind of stuff that they endured heatstroke killed a lot of people to. Oh, yeah. In the summer of nineteen thirty-three alone apparently about three people per week were dying of heat stroke because dude in in the sun in these tunnels in particular apparently would get up to one hundred and forty degrees Fahrenheit, which is some ungodly amount and celsius two and then in the shade on the worst days, it would get to like one hundred twenty degrees in the shade. It's a dry heat though. Sure. That's not the heat. It's the humidity unless. It's a hundred and twenty and then it doesn't matter. Yeah. And one of the common urban legends is that there are dead bodies in the concrete of Hoover dam that is not true. And I love how. Julia put it common decency aside. She says it would have compromised the structural integrity. So they they had to fish these bodies out because if you are a body and concrete, you're going to decompose eventually, and that's gonna leave bubbles and introduced gas into the concrete, and that's going to weaken the structure, so they had to fish all these bodies out and even still we'll we'll talk about the concrete next. But just just to kind of lay the foundation for this point, you'll forgive the pun. You when they when they poured a buckets worth of concrete to build the dam face through the dam itself. I guess the the the dam is so enormous that whole bucket only raise the level of concrete by like two to six inches, depending on the block they reporting. So if you fell into the concrete, you were you fell into two inches of concrete, basically. Yeah. So you are you're you weren't going to get lost in the concrete or anything like that. And then on top of that yet. They even if they did not care about whether you spend eternity entombed they'd be like, well, you're not gonna you're not gonna screw with the integrity of our damn. So yes, there's no dead bodies in there, not buddies. So so let's talk about the concrete, shall we real quick? Yeah. So this point the the walls are clean and smooth. They've got these abutment in place there, which by the way, if I may. Yes. Okay. So I looked all over for the abutment and all. I ever saw was it's the it's the walls of the canyon the rock walls of the canyon are the abutment from what I can gather. You know, how when you when you grab somebody nicely in jokingly by the shoulders right in or holding them securely like this. Right. So you've got your thumbs on the front of their arms. He got their fingers on the back of their arms like that. Right. Your fingers and thumbs are acting as a button Mets. And so the abutment that are holding rather than this poor sap who again, you just joking around with rather than than that person these abutment or the canyon walls holding the dam itself in place. That's right. Okay. Had you wanna make sure I I mean, I had but like I couldn't tell if they were like parts of that stuck out of the dam or parts that stuck out of the canyon walls. And I don't know. Maybe it was one of those things where everybody else knows what a button. Mintz's? And that's why no one went to the trouble of explaining it. But I couldn't find it like spelled out or good picture saying, here's the abutment s-. So I just assumed that no one else knew, and I was the only one digging into it. But now, I feel like my eyes have been opened. Well, I have the three fake teeth and implant, so I know what about mentor they go. That was it's different in your teeth. But not really same word. Yeah. Same function. Right. So these about mentzer in place, and they were like, all right? We gotta start porn some concrete the design itself. A lot of dams use this design it's called gravity arch. And it's basically just using the natural pressure of of the land to kind of force everything tight into that tightened down that concrete between those two canyons. Yeah. It's really ingenious. It's just like an arched bridge where gravity presses down on the arch which makes the arch press into say like the walls of the canyon that the bridges crossing. And the bridge the walls of the Kenyan push back, which only strengthens the bridge. Same exact thing. It's like if you took a bridge arch bridge and put it on its side. That's what the Hoover dam is. So in the water presses into that curve of the arch. It tries to straighten the dam which presses the damn into this sides of the canyon walls, which prospect which strengthens the damn it's ingenious in genius. I tell you. Yeah. And so they didn't even need that. That's kind of the the funny part about all of this. There's so much concrete that it could have been a flat slab, which a lot of dams are. But apparently engineers thought that would freak people out to have a flat slab damn that big. Right. And so. They said let's just curve it anyway because everyone understands basic physics, right? And it looks cool. And it does look very cool. All right. So we're we're actually finally to the concrete. There are three point two five million cubic yards of concrete that make up the Hoover dam, and then another one point one one million cubic yards, and it's not just the dam face. There's a lot of, you know, houses a power plant and all these outlying structures and five million barrels of cement five million barrels went into mixing all this concrete, which they mixed onsite sin in railcars hoisted down on these cable ways that they had built and every seventy eight seconds. These workers would get a new bucket of concrete to poor right right for until about five feet of the dam had been poured. And then after that they had to stop. For seventy two hours to let it cure because curing is a huge part when you're working with concrete, if it doesn't cure right than the stuff inside is going to take longer to cure them the stuff outside which isn't that big of a deal? If you're pouring like, you know, a driveway in a house or something like that. But when you're pouring a dam that has to have like really exact dimensions. You have to keep the outside and the inside curing it about the same rate. So they came up with this, really ingenious. Way to to cure this concrete, really fast, and they ran pipes steel pipes all through all the concrete that they poured. So there's still pipes running all over the Hoover dam inside of it. And they cooled water onsite to like like just above freezing. And they pumped it through these pipes. So that when they were pouring concrete the concrete was being cooled internally. And they were spraying it with water on the outside too. So it was curing at about the same rate inside as it was outside, and it was curing fast in about seventy two hours. Where if they had poured a slab that if they poured the Hoover dam and one big slab, it just left it. First of all, it would have been all messed up all kinds of ways. But it also would have taken about one hundred twenty five years to cure fully on its own it still be hearing now, but they they managed to get these know five foot increments to cure in about seventy two hours yet again, I mean, another just. Idea that they like nobody had really tried something like this on the scale. So these people were kind of making it up and going and doing the math as as they went along. And they were right like time after time. That's the most astounding part to me. I mean, the the heat is a big problem for concrete because it's going to expand in that heat. And then you know in the desert can cool down quite a bit. You know, the temperature variation between the heat of day and at night can be really drastic. And so it's really tough to control all that. And they they managed to do it. Which is remarkable. They divide this whole thing up into blocks. And there are two hundred blocks total making up the Hoover dam, depending they're they're smaller the downstream face, and they are upstream, but they range from about twenty five square feet to sixty square feet, and all of those blocks together all two hundred of them make up the Hoover dam finally on may twenty ninth nineteen thirty five they poured that last bucket of concrete which. Imagine was pretty darn good day. I'll bet it was too. And then after that after that last block of concrete cured, they squeezed grout, which is cement and water. Like a really kind of slushy mixture into every crack and crevice. There was in between those blocks to form a solid sheet. And then just for good measure they pumped grout into those cooling pipes. So and then they kept that off. So inside the Hoover dam. There's enough concrete to make a sixteen foot wide eight inch deep road all the way from San Francisco to New York amazing. It is amazing. So dude, I think we should do this into two parts if evil knievel got a two parter, I think the Hoover dam deserves a two parter to leaving for forty five minutes. So there's still a long long way to go. So should we do that? Yes. Let so since we're doing a two parter, I guess that bring. Listener mail. Right. Chuck, I think we'll skip listener mail. Okay. Who damn doesn't get to listener meals. Okay. Fine. I was just was getting a little ambitious. Well, in the meantime, if you wanna drop us a line, you can go to stuff, you should know dot com and check out our social links. You can check me out on the Josh Clark way dot com, and you can send me Chuck, Jerry and everyone involved in stuff, you should know in Email to stuff podcast iheartradio dot com. Stuff. You should know is production of heart radios. How stuff works for more podcasts. My heart radio. Visit the iheartradio app apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows. Hi there. It's me Josh Clark. And I'm coming out into the world on a solo tour. I up Minneapolis in Washington DC for the better part of a year. I worked on the ten part podcast series the end of the world with Josh Clark. If you haven't heard it. It's high time you did. It's available everywhere. You get podcast, and I hope it will not your socks off. But even with almost seven full hours of talking about exit -sential risks and how we can save the world. There's still a lot more to go over. So I've created a live show to keep the conversation going whether you've never heard a second of the series or you've listened to it ten times already. The live show will still get your brain juices flowing and plunge you into the end of the world. So come see me, I'll be at the Parkway theater in Minneapolis on June nineteenth and the miracle theatre in DC on June. Twentieth. Tickets are available at the Parkway theater dot com and the miracle. Theater dot com.

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