Grand Canyon here we come. We took a tour bus to see the south rim of the Grand Canyon and one of the benefits of the tour was a stop at Hoover Dam. Ever since 9/11 all traffic crossing Hoover Dam must be inspected. The inspection of our bus is completed and we are on our way.
As we rounded the curve for our first glimpse of the dam the bus driver/tour guide pointed out the new parking garage on our left and the new Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge on our right. Our driver told us that the parking garage took nine years to build and the bypass was started in 2002 and was to be finished in 2007. The bypass bridge will not be done until 2010.
Hoover Dam was built in five years — between 1931 and 1936 — by more than 20,000 men making 50 cents to a $1.25 an hour. The workers had only two unpaid days off each year. There is not an accurate count as to how many lost their lives building the dam.
Originally Hoover Dam was named Boulder Dam. In 1929 President Herbert Hoover was instrumental in the passage of the Boulder Canyon Project Act. The problems of the area had been studied since the late 1800s and in 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt signed the reclamation Act which started a series of investigations concerning the problems of the area. It can be said that Boulder Dam was a shovel-ready project.
As a result of the Boulder Dam construction Boulder City was created to provide residences and facilities for the construction workers and their families. Since the dam was constructed during the Great Depression men with families flocked to the area for work.
The dam is considered an engineering marvel and a great American landmark. In 1947 the dam was renamed Hoover Dam as a tribute to former President Hoover.
After leaving Hoover Dam the bus traveled through a barren region. Whenever I am faced with this type of terrain I think of those brave Americans who settled the West. It is hard to imagine the discomfort of riding in a covered wagon for months on end. So typical of our times we are riding in great comfort in a bus made in another country.
As I reflect on the Great Depression I am overwhelmed by the fact that the people only had radios and newspapers to help them find where work was located. Men or entire families would leave their homes in search for work. The hardships were enormous. Today with our electronic media flashing 24/7 we are more informed but still many are without work.
Going back to the beginning of our country, I am reminded of the struggles of the early settlers. America was founded and built by men and women willing to take a chance for a better life in this country of ours. We have survived a revolution and a war of division. We have survived world wars and attacks on our own soil by those who would destroy us and all we believe in.
As I stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon I was awed by the spectacle that was before me. We have so many phenomenal places in our nation. We are truly blessed that we can travel freely and see these wonders for small sums of money.
This country has faced chaos before and we have survived. This time the chaos has been brought on by the failures of human nature. Believing that all business is conducted in a proper way and that greed and unethical behavior will not rear their ugly heads is a failure of human nature.
The challenge now is to fix what is wrong without altering the basic principles of our wonderful country. We owe that to the men and women who struggled so hard and gave so much.
Mary Partington lives in New Port Richey.