Transcript for The Story of Hoover Dam, segment 02 of 12


Build a dam in the wilderness and the world will beat a path to it. For many centuries, this was a lonely canyon unseen and untouched by man, scorched by a desert sun, scolded by an angry river slashing its way to the mother sea. Now it lies peaceful and silent except for the gentle hum of a hydroelectric power plant, the bubbling up of water as it leaves mighty turbines, the cheerful sounds of America and the world on the move to see this pioneer multipurpose reclamation project man built in Black Canyon. Millions come to this once desolate spot to see this engineering wonder, to hear the story of Hoover Dam.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now standing on the powerhouse ramp five hundred sixty feet below the top of the dam. This is Black Canyon where Nevada and Arizona meet where the Colorado River once flowed uncontrolled. Here's where man conquered this mighty river, placing a concrete yoke about its neck to harness tremendous water and power resources. The water that flows through the canyon...

Through the ages, the river has gathered to its bed the snow-fed rivulets of the Rockies flowing southwestward in its wild fourteen hundred mile descent to the Pacific Ocean, gouging great canyons, piling up great deltas of silt in the valleys. Early settlers were at the mercy of this untamed giant. Melted snow from the mountains each spring swelled the Colorado River into a raging torrent, flooding fertile valleys along its banks, destroying farmlands, homes, and cities.

In nineteen five, the Colorado cut through its banks below the Mexican border and for two years poured unchecked into the salton sink, forming an inland sea. After each spring's flood, when the river had spent its fury, it dried to a trickle. Crops withered and died. Man and his livestock thirsted. All living things suffered. Settlers along the river were discouraged and aroused. Some gave up and went elsewhere. Others stayed to fight. The river had to be regulated, controlled in a year-round flow if they were to succeed. No more floods. No more droughts.

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