The Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam is part of the infrastructure. The Hoover Dam, on the Colorado River, provides power for over a million homes.

You have probably heard the word infrastructure in the news. But what does it mean? The infrastructure is made of facilities that people need to live. Bridges, roads, energy plants, water treatment, schools, hospitals, and more make up the infrastructure.

In the 1930s, a lot of people were out of work. The United States also needed a lot of new infrastructure. So the government started a new agency called the Works Progress Administration, or WPA. The WPA gave more people jobs than any government agency had before. The agency built thousands of roads, schools, government buildings—and much more! One of the projects the WPA built is the Hoover Dam.

The Hoover Dam was completed in 1936. It had three purposes: to prevent flooding, to provide water for drinking and to water crops, and to produce power. Working on the dam was dangerous. Workers had to hang 800 feet high in the air while they removed rock from the canyon. Some workers worked in tunnels where temperatures soared to 140 degrees. 112 men lost their lives during the building of the Dam. Some fell, and others drowned. But jobs were scarce, and many were willing to do the hard work.

The dam is as tall as a 60-story building from the river to the top of the dam. It’s as wide as two football fields. Water from the dam helped big cities grow. Without the dam, cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles would not have been able to grow. The dam produces a lot of power, too.

What Do You Think? What parts of the infrastructure are important in your life?

Photo Credit: (l)Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division [LC-USZ62-89655], (r)Fuse/Getty Images