Boulder City, NV

(Bumped-6:30 PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

Lake Mead

Boulder City was originally conceived in 1931, and “finished” in 1932, as housing for the workers on Boulder Dam, as it was then called.  Alcohol sales, membership in unions and all forms of gambling were prohibited in the city.  Originally property of the Bureau of Reclamation, it became an incorporated city in 1960, after the Bureau relinquished control in 1958.

This is part of a continuing series on Las Vegas and the surrounding environs.  If you take a tour of the dam and choose to go by SUV instead of bus, you may get a driver/guide who do more than just take you to the dam.

Lake Mead across the Rooftops

While gambling is still officially illegal, the Hacienda Hotel and Casino sits between Boulder City and the Dam…in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  The Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino at the other end of town is actually in Henderson.  The town did not become wet until 1969.

Boulder City was originally scheduled to be built before construction of the dam commenced, but President Hoover moved the date from October of 1931 to March.  Six Companies, Inc., which ran the construction, built bunkhouses along the canyon wall to house the workers.  Workers with families lived in Ragtown, a tent city within president day Boulder City.

The workforce included no “Mongolians” and very few blacks.  And they practiced segregation of water.

The summer of 1931 averaged almost 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  16 riverside residents died of heat prostration between June 25 and July 26.

The wobblies tried to organize the workers, but most of the 11 organizers they sent were arrested by Las Vegas police.  The workers chased the IWW organizers away, but did form a committee and drew up grievances in August of 1931, after their pay had been cut.  The superintendent of the project, Frank Crowe, not only refused their demands, but fired the lot of them and chased them away from the dam, hiring a set of new workers on August 13.  Conditions improved with the beginning of the construction of Boulder City in October.

Modern day Boulder City is a city of public statuary, views of Lake Mead, tourism kitsch shops, and, I am told, a major speed trap.


Residents are financially encouraged to “desertify” their yards in order to conserve water resources.  We saw very few lawns, I’m happy to say.

A rotor from the dam

Statue of a Builder

Sheep statuary

Statue of Two Workers

A bear with sign

Statue of a Woman

Two children on a tricycle

Herd of Sheep

It is also home to some bighorn sheep, with which the residents peacefully coexist.  It seemed to be not unusual for homeowners to place tubs of water in their front yards or driveways for the sheep.  The one park we visited allowed no dogs because they might harass the sheep, which visited to dine on the foliage.

I did not get photos of the Boulder Hotel, which I understand is now a museum, nor of the first air conditioned building in the city, which was the theater.  The theater has been converted from a movie theater to doing live productions and is now home to the Boulder Ballet Company.  The theater is owned by Boulder City residents Dezi Arnaz, Jr and his wife Amy.

Close-up of a Bighorn Sheep


Skip to comment form

    • Robyn on July 18, 2010 at 9:13 pm
  1. my diary hasn’t been front paged.

Comments have been disabled.