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Boulder Dam

Some people have probably heard of Boulder Dam. Many people don't realize that Boulder Dam and Hoover Dam are actually the same thing. So what should it be called?

The original site of the dam was to be at Boulder Canyon about 8 miles upstream from the current location. Thus the Boulder Canyon Project Act (BCPA) of 1928 was signed and approved by President Calvin Coolidge on December 21 of that year. The location was moved to Black Canyon for better impoundment, but it was still known as the Boulder Canyon Project. Construction of the dam project began on July 7, 1930, and Herbert Hoover was now President of the United States.

On September 17, 1930 a special dedication ceremony was held to signify the official start of the project, and at the ceremony President Hoover's Secretary of the Interior Ray Lyman Wilbur gave a speech in which he announced that the dam would from that point on be officially known as Hoover Dam. Wilbur was following a tradition of naming important dams after the President who was in office when they were constructed, like the Theodore Roosevelt Dam, the Wilson Dam, and the Coolidge Dam were. However, naming the dam after Hoover was an unpopular idea at the time. In 1930, the Great Depression was getting worse and Hoover was either blamed for it or ridiculed for not doing anything about it. Hoover was also planning to be re-elected in 1932, and he thought he should show that he was sensitive to the nations economic situation. By naming the dam after himself, he thought that he would get good publicity for the fact that he was instrumental in starting the project and creating jobs to employ over 5000 people to work on construction of the dam.

Things didn't turn out as President Hoover expected, because he lost his bid for re-election in 1932 to Franklin D. Roosevelt. When Roosevelt took office on March 4, 1933, he brought Harold Ickes with him to replace Ray Lyman Wilbur as Secretary of the Interior. Harold Ickes, obviously for political reasons, quickly acted to remove Hoover's name from the Boulder Canyon Project. On May 8th of 1933, Ickes sent a memo to the Bureau in charge of the dam, stating, "I have your reference to the text for the pamphlet descriptive of the Boulder Canyon Project for use at the Century of Progress Exposition. I would be glad if you will refer to the dam as 'Boulder Dam' in this pamphlet as well as in correspondence and other references to the dam as you may have occasion to make in the future."

It didn't happen overnight, but over the following several years all references to Hoover Dam in tourist publications and other texts, as well as in official government sources, disappeared in favor of the name Boulder Dam.

After Franklin Roosevelt died and Harold Ickes retired, California Congressman Jack Anderson submitted House Resolution 140 on March 4th 1947 in an effort to restore the name Hoover Dam. He was successful, and on April 30, 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law 43 which read: "Resolved . that the name of Hoover Dam is hereby restored to the dam on the Colorado River in Black Canyon constructed under the authority of the Boulder Canyon Project Act . . Any law, regulation, document, or record of the United States in which such dam is designated or referred to under the name of Boulder Dam shall be held to refer to such dam under and by the name of Hoover Dam."

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