To Build a Dam

Robert W. Righter

in The Battle Over Hetch Hetchy

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780195149470
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199788934 | DOI:
To Build a Dam

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This chapter chronicles the building of the O'Shaughnessy Dam, the largest concrete dam in the United States when completed in 1923, and the keystone of the Hetch Hetchy water and power system. It covers the difficulty of financing and constructing a dam, and facilities deep in the mountains of California. It explores the contractors and the lives of the workers who built the system. It asks whether the system, completed in 1934, was worth the lawsuits, bond issues, political discord, construction problems, the cost in dollars, and the loss of human life. The answer was no because San Francisco had other viable alternatives. Nevertheless, the Hetch Hetchy system represents one of the three great California public works projects of its day. The other two were the San Francisco Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Keywords: dam construction; O'Shaughnessy Dam; Michael O'Shaughnessy; Labor Issues; Public Works Financing; Hydro power; San Francisco Water and Power System

Chapter.  12088 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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