Bryan - Hoover Dam Chapter 6

Bryan - Hoover Dam Chapter 6 - Chapter 6"A Callous Cruel...

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Chapter 6 “A Callous, Cruel Lump of Concrete” The dam began to grow piece by piece, block by block. Concrete was poured into individual columns that were 5 foot thick . Pipes, one inch in diameter, were place in the wet concrete. Cool river water and then ice cold water would be pumped into the pipes to allow the contractors to cool the concrete columns at the same rate to prevent cracks. Once the blocks had cooled and had stopped shrinking, grout would be pumped into the pipes to make the columns solid. The reason for pouring the dam in 5 foot wide columns was to dissipate the tremendous chemical heat generated by the setting of the concrete. If the dam had been poured in a single, continuous pour, it’s internal temperature would rise 40 degrees while it was hardening, and it would take 125 years to cool. The cooling process would cause tremendous stress that would fracture the cement so badly that the dam would be useless. In order to pour the concrete, Frank Crowe designed a web of cableways over the Black Canyon. The cables could pick up anything, a truck, a bucket of concrete, a crew of men, or a single wrench, and lower it in seconds to any point within the mile long construction zone. Small cableways that brought men in and out of the canyon were known as “Joe McGees”. They were named this after an Irishman with that name because they were ‘cantankerous little critters”. Building the dam was dangerous and many ignored the danger in the rush to complete the dam as quickly as possible. The accident rate was high. Crews competed against crews. Bonuses were being offered for rapid concrete pouring. As part of a safety program, Six Companies displayed billboards around the site that said, “Death is so Permanent”. The only restraint on the race to finish the dam was the contract requirement that no more than 5 feet of concrete could be poured
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into a column in a 72 hour period, and no more than 35 feet could be poured in 30 days. The man responsible for making sure these rules were followed was Construction Engineer Walker Young. Crowe often referred to him as the “Great Delayer” and Young
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This note was uploaded on 07/30/2008 for the course HIST 2301 taught by Professor Trobridge during the Spring '07 term at Texas Tech.

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Bryan - Hoover Dam Chapter 6 - Chapter 6"A Callous Cruel...

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