On September 9, 1935, as completion of the dam approached, President Franklin Roosevelt visited the dam for its formal dedication. Thousands of people and cars packed the road leading up to and crossing the dam. Dressed in their finest, workers listened with pride as the president congratulated them on their part in the accomplishment.
"I came, I saw, I was conquered . . ." President Roosevelt
During the dedication Roosevelt talked of progress and how the face of the American west would forever be changed. But as often is the case with progress, sacrifices had to be made. Not only were lives lost, but entire towns and cultures as well.
Stemming the flow of the Colorado also meant the formation of reservoir. Stretching over 100 miles, the reservoir, Lake Mead, became the first National Recreation Area in the United States. Families could gather for boating, fishing, picnicking, and sunbathing. However, the new lake had once been to home to hundreds of 19th century settlers as well as ancient Native American civilizations. Once the waters of Lake Mead began to form behind Hoover Dam, former towns like Saint Thomas and Kaolin, and many archaeological sites were covered forever.
Even though President Roosevelt dedicated the dam, the remaining workers on the project knew that the dam wouldn’t be entirely completed for several more months. The powerhouses and spillways had to be completed and decorative elements applied, such as the installment of commemorative statues. Gradually, the work force that had once reached over 5000 began to taper off as men completed their jobs and headed for other projects such as the construction of the Shasta Dam.
As men and families packed their belongings and headed for various destinations, many others chose to make their way in Boulder City. A thriving town had sprouted out of the utilitarian grouping of government and company buildings. Stores, restaurants, homes, hotels, and even a movie theater contributed to the growing sense of community among the residents. Families had become attached to the little oasis and decided to make it into a permanent home.
The smaller company houses were torn down, but the larger ones could be bought for $250. Though still considered a United States reservation and federally governed until the 1960s, Boulder City grew into a model American town focused on maintaining the values that had made it successful. The pride, strength, camaraderie, creativity and perseverance that were so important in the construction of the dam were well translated into the family town of Boulder City.