Last remaining worker on Hoover Dam hydro project passed away

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The last remaining worker on the 2,078-MW Hoover Dam hydro project, 98-year-old Joseph Darwin Colby, died on Nov. 12.

Colby learned about the project (then called Boulder Dam) at age 15, in 1931, and it is reported that he drove from Salina, Utah, to the construction project on his motorcycle. The site of this facility is on the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada, about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

During his time at the dam, Colby worked on the bypass valves and performed concrete work on the spillways. He was then laid off but convinced chief engineer Frank Crowe to keep him on until the dam was completed in 1935.

Hoover Dam was built to provide irrigation and hydroelectric power. It was one of the largest man-made structures in the world at the time it was built, at 726 feet high and 1,244 feet long. The construction was particularly culturally significant to the U.S. because it occurred at a time when many men had lost their jobs as a result of the Great Depression. A total of 21,000 men worked on building the dam over the course of its construction.

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation owns and operates the facility.

Work going on at the facility includes replacement of unit circuit breakers and associated equipment.

For more news on historic hydroelectric facilities, click here.

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