Eighty years ago this October 26, the first generator at Hoover Dam went into full operation. It was the initial payoff of an engineering marvel that took nearly 15 years of work and took more than 100 lives during construction.
Construction on Hoover Dam provided work to thousands of men during the Great Depression. Since October 26, 1936—when the water began turning the Francis turbine generators—the dam has provided thousands of MW in power to millions of people in the hot, arid southwest.
It also gave us the blue oasis of Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir when it’s full. However, these days, Lake Mead levels are falling dramatically and could drop below 1.020 feet within four years and, if drought persists, became unusable by 2040.
Hopefully, this man-made miracle in the Black Canyon will continue as long as possible. Here’s a series of History Channel videos detailing the particulars and challenges of the remarkable Hoover Dam.