The Manless Land
The Manless Land
The Bureau of Reclamation
This chapter examines the history of American river development through one of its major proponents, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. On September 11, 1936, Hoover Dam began generating electricity. Many “experts” had predicted that a dam of such monstrous dimensions could not be built; some thought it would collapse of its own immense weight. Thanks to American ingenuity, courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation, Hoover Dam became a reality. In regard to public policy, there was a strong move to use “watery science” to irrigate vast stretches of land in the American West. But the science was only part of the irrigation phenomenon in 1900. The other part was a vast scheme of social engineering that was both grandiose and far-reaching. The construction of Hoover Dam, Grand Coulee Dam, and other projects launched the Bureau into a period of major expansion and construction. Other major Bureau projects include the Central Utah Project and the Central Arizona Project (CAP), the Garrison Diversion in North Dakota, and two of the five “Aspinall” projects in Colorado.
Keywords: American river development, Bureau of Reclamation, Hoover Dam, watery science, irrigation, social engineering, Grand Coulee Dam, Central Utah Project, Central Arizona Project, Garrison Diversion
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