Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hoover Dam Stories: Two Deaths


One of the questions people often ask about the building of the Hoover Dam is “How many people are buried in the Dam?”  There is a very simple answer to that: zero.  There is one dog, Nig, who was buried at the site, but humans?  None.   

Although the exact number of those that perished is disputable, the official number of deaths associated with its construction is ninety-six.  But I want to tell you about two: the first and the last. 

Before construction could begin, the United States government had to do a lot of pre-work at the site.  This began several years before the project was ever announced.  On December 20, 1922, an employee of the Bureau of Reclamation fell off a barge into the Colorado River during a geological expedition and drowned.  His death is considered, by many accounts, as the first death to occur in association with the Dam. 

Intake towers-during construction
The last occurred exactly thirteen years later on December 20, 1935.  On this day, a young man working on one of the massive intake towers fell to his death. 

The coincidence that they both occurred on December 20th is itself a bit of interesting historical trivia, but there is something else that connects these two deaths that make them even more fascinating. 

The first death--the man who drowned in 1922 was J. G. Tierney. 

The man who fell from the intake tower, marking the last death at the Hoover Dam?

Patrick Tierney. 

His son.


16 comments:

Loree Huebner said...

Oh gosh! I got the chills reading this, Kelly.

What a strange connection! First and last, December 20th, and father and son. I will remember that story forever. Like they say, "truth is stranger than fiction".

Great post.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Thanks, Loree. I always remember this because 12/20 is my sons birthday.

Erica Lucke Dean said...

That is the creepiest coincedence, and something makes me think there was more to it than that...in some otherworldly way. As always, your blog is informative and fun. I'll be sharing this story for sure!

Brandy Walker said...

The coincidence is creepy and the number 13 (the second death occurred 13 years later) makes it even more creepy.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

It's kind of hard not to forget this one.

debrakristi said...

Wow. That is curious. It makes you wonder if there wasn't something more at work, doesn't it? (Insert creepy music here) Oh! And very strange that it's 13 years later. My father died on the exact same day of the year as his mother, only years later. Now I'll have to look up how many years it is between the two. I always thought that was odd as well. Now you have me thinking. Hmm

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

I should have used creepy music on the blog, Debra!

writeanovelin10minutesflat said...

How sad for those left behind. Cathyx

Justin Bogdanovitch said...

Thanks Kelly for this bit of macabre trivia on the Hoover Dam. I also dwell on the eerie coincidences in life and think of them as a kind of wake up call. Can't wait to read more.

Suzanne Shumaker said...

How interesting, I wonder about the other family members left behind by these two deaths. What happened to them? Do people assume there are dead bodies inside the dam because that is what happened during the construction of the Great Wall of China?

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

There were a few people that fell in the concrete while they were building, but they got them out. Frank Crowe would have never allowed a body to remain there, it would have compromised the structural stability, and additionally, the pour only raised the dam by inches at a time. But, for some reason, a lot of people still believe there are bodies.

Amberr Meadows said...

What a wicked twist of fate. I'm glad to know there aren't still bodies there,, by the way. The correlations are creepy enough without that added in.

zencherry said...

OOoooo but I like data like this. Very good post Kelly! :D

Anonymous said...

Amazing. What a coincidence. Thanks for sharing this. Great post:)
Jane Isaac

Lars D. H. Hedbor said...

I have to wonder if the son fell or jumped, given the coincidence of dates.

Marsha V. Hammond, PhD said...

Verified by the tour guide today at the dam.