Date: Mon, 31 Oct 1994 04:11:12 -0800

From: James Beniger beniger[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]RCF.USC.EDU

Subject: Re: Boulder Dam

Both "Boulder Dam" and "Hoover Dam" have become so common in American

culture, as iconic for "dam," that I'd bet much of the

population--possibly a majority--thinks they are two different dams.

I understand that, in the 30's, local Democrats referred to the dam as

"Dam(n) Hoover."

I'd like to hear Thomas Clark clarify/elaborate the sentence "Local media

are careful to make the distinction between Boulder and Hoover" (see below),

which is intriguing but unclear in context, at least to me.

-- Jim


On Sun, 30 Oct 1994, THOMAS CLARK wrote:

On Sun, 30 Oct 1994, Martha Howard wrote:

When it waas first constructed, it was known as Boulder dam and that's

how I knewit when I wasin grade school (in the 30's).

MH brings up an interesting variant that we are tracking in the Nevada

Language Survey. By the 40's, school children were being taught "Hoover

Dam," and probably snickering at the current furor over Clark Gable's

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." During construction, the dam

was called "Boulder Dam" in spite of the fact that it was being built in

Black Canyon rather than in Boulder Canyon (the original site).

Boulder Highway, leading southeast out of Las Vegas, takes one to Boulder

City, where I live a few days a week (a welcome respite from Las Vegas).

The dam was part of the huge WPA machination and thus known to every

construction worker in the western world, who passed the information onto

all of his (this is the 1930's) progeny.

When the dam was dedicated, the mood of the country (or at least the

Congress) had shifted, and the name of the project was changed from

Boulder to Hoover.

This created local problems. Hoover was not PC, according to local

Democratic bosses. It appears there may have been a social split --

Democrats refused to call the damn thing Hoover.

Today, in Nevada, you can take a socio-political reading (we think,

hypothesis on the way) by whether young people use "Boulder Dam" or

"Hoover Dam." People from families who have been in Clark County (Las

Vegas area) for more than 25 years use "Boulder." Newbies use Hoover,

unless they have been "reached." Local media are careful to make the

distinction between Boulder and Hoover. Interestingly, when local

politicians want to make a point with SENIOR CITIZENS, a voting bloc,

they will carefully refer to Hoover Dam projects. But that sometimes

backfires. Recently, a refurbishment of the Visitor's Center cost about

three times what the entire dam project cost.

Factual: About half of native Clark County residents use Boulder to

refer to the structure.

Anecdotal: My children grew up here. They use Hoover. They are Mostly


We can control our sinuses better than we can our children.

It gets more detailed and complex, but MH was right when she said

whether damn has a bad connotation confuses me.