The Naming of Hoover Dam

Black and white photo taken from the Colorado river looking at Black Canyon

Black Canyon taken Oct 13 1930

On 30th April 1947, the 80th Congress passed legislation to officially designate the dam, previously known as Boulder Dam, to be “Hoover Dam” in honor of President Herbert Hoover.  The name of the dam that spans banks of the Colorado River flowing in between Nevada and Arizona has long been a topic of conversation, for varying reasons…
For one, Boulder Dam is not in Boulder Canyon! Boulder Dam was originally named after the canyon in which the dam was considered to be the best place for it to be located. Surveyors originally suggested the dam be constructed at Boulder Canyon, leading the initiative to be called the Boulder Canyon Dam Project. However geologic research conducted as early as 1921 showed that this location was actually far from ideal. Black Canyon later was deemed to be a better location, By this point, though, government legislation regarding the initiative had been named the Boulder Canyon Project, and all subsequent legal documentation continued to refer to this name – even naming the city built for the dam workers after Boulder Canyon!
This was not the first time that the dam had been named Hoover Dam! In September 1930, Secretary Wilbur arrived for a ceremony in recognition of the first ties of the railway track from Bracken in Las Vegas to Boulder City and the dam site. At this event, as he talks he names it Hoover Dam, after the current President, although it did not gain traction or the support he thought it would, and locally was rarely referred to as that.

Black and white photograph of Boulder Dam dedication ceremony on September 30, 1935. The two intake towers are seen in the background while a crowd of people are gathered along the bridge and looking down the dam.

Boulder Dam dedication ceremony on Sept 30, 1935

Black and white photograph of the valve houses discharging water from Arizona Canyon Wall of Hoover Dam in 1936.

Valve houses discharging water in 1936.