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Raising Arizona's Dams

Raising Arizona's Dams: Daily Life, Danger, and Discrimination in the Dam Construction Camps of Central Arizona, 1890s-1940s

A. E. Rogge
D. Lorne McWatters
Melissa Keane
Richard P. Emanuel
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 212
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  • Book Info
    Raising Arizona's Dams
    Book Description:

    This is the engrossing story of the unsung heroeswho did the day-to-day work of building Arizona's dams, focusing on the lives of laborers and their families who created temporary construction communities during the building of seven major dams in central Arizona. The book focuses primarily on the 1903-1911 Roosevelt Dam camps and the 1926-1927 Camp Pleasant at Waddell Dam, although other camps dating from the 1890s through the 1940s are discussed as well. The book is liberally illustrated with historic photographs of the camps and the people who occupied them while building the dams.

    eISBN: 978-0-8165-3598-9
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Figures (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Preface (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Acknowledgments (pp. xvii-xix)
  6. 1 Watering the West (pp. 1-29)

    Water, or its lack, has shaped every aspect of America’s desert Southwest. Towering saguaros and tiny scorpions are remarkably well adapted to the region's heat and aridity. The echuing Grand Canyon continues to be carved into the earth by the waters of the Colorado River. In the Southwest, water has shaped human history and culture as profoundly as the landscape.

    The Southwest has not always been desert. Twelve thousand years ago, late in the Pleistocene glacial epoch, the PaleoIndians who moved into what is now Arizona enjoyed more abundant rainfall and a comparatively mild climate. As the Ice Age relaxed...

  7. 2 Daily Life (pp. 31-87)

    The desert that surrounds Lake Roosevelt is a challenging place to survive without today’s air-conditioned technology. Vistas are impressive, but much of the land is rocky, and the sparse ground cover is prickly. Summer temperatures often top 100°F. Rainfall may be scarce for months at a Lime. Yet for thousands of years, people have lived in and roamed the desert canyons and valley floors of the Tonto Basin.

    The most impressive archaeological sites found in the Tonto Basin are remnants of the prehistoric Salado, including the cliff dwellings that have been preserved as the Tonto National Monument. Like the Hohokam,...

  8. 3 Danger (pp. 89-123)

    Although glamorized and mythologized within our popular culture, the Western cowboy was, in reality, a wageworker who traveled from job to job, hiring on when there was work. In their nomadic careers, dam construction workers were cowboys of construction, working in difficult and sometimes hazardous conditions, moving from construction job to construction job.

    While living and working conditions at the dam construction camps were not necessarily harsh for all individuals at all times, common labor must have been difficult and demanding. Tunneling, blasting, cutting rock, mixing concrete, and grading roads, all the work of building Roosevelt Dam, used human muscle...

  9. 4 Discrimination (pp. 125-165)

    The United States is commonly said to be a “melting pot” in which diverse ethnic groups have blended to create a new democratic culture blessed with amazing hybrid vigor. The term is relatively new, first appearing inWebster’s Dictionaryin 1934 (Rabinowitz 1983). Although the credo of “equal opportunity for all” dates from the founding of our country, the reality is that ethnic labels, and the stereotypes that went with them, were a routine aspect of daily life-and still are (see “Ethnic Labels and Stereotypes,” p. 150). Historians have come to realize, somewhat belatedly, that one of the unique characteristics...

  10. 5 Conlinuily and Lessons (pp. 167-184)

    This bottom-up history of the temporary dam construction camps of central Arizona is a story about the lives of ordinary people. We have shifted the focus away from the mythical images of cowboys and Indians, and beyond the battles of power brokers over financing and water policy. By considering the “cowboys of construction” and the reality of wagework, we have offered a broader perspective on the participants and processes of development of the American West.

    It would be easy to think of the historic dam construction camps of central Arizona as small, temporary, out-of-the-way communities that provide interesting vignettes of...

  11. For Further Reading (pp. 185-188)
  12. References Cited (pp. 189-204)
  13. Index (pp. 205-210)
  14. Back Matter (pp. 211-212)