Hoover Dam or Boulder Dam?  
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Is it Hoover Dam or Boulder Dam ...?
... or what's in name when politicians get involved?

How the Hoover Dam got to be officially named after Herbert Hoover is a convoluted story that involves politics and events not specifically related to the project other than the impact it has had on the southwest.Hoover Dam Spillway Apparently many people and politicians were resentful of how Herbert Hoover handled the economy when he was president and did not want Hoover's name associated with a project that was so beneficial to the southwest. While Hoover was the most critical player in getting the project underway naming the project after him was seen as a political statement and seemed to take advantage of the fact that the original site for the project was moved. 

When the project began the location of the dam was to be at Boulder Canyon about 10 miles upstream from the current location. Thus the name 'Boulder Canyon Project'. It was noticed later that if the dam were built at Black Canyon instead of Boulder Canyon, it would be able to impound more water. Also, geologically, Black Canyon had a more dense rock in its canyon walls. When the dam site was moved to Black Canyon, it was still called the Boulder Canyon Project. The dam got its name from the project which originated it, 'Boulder Dam'.

On September 17, 1930, Herbert Hoover's Secretary of the Interior Ray L. Wilbur, went to the site to dedicate the official start of the project. In his dedication speech, he announced that the dam would from that point on be officially known as Hoover Dam. All things considered this was a pretty unpopular idea at the time. The idea behind this move was to bolster Hoover's image.

In 1930, the Great Depression was getting worse and Hoover was either blamed for it or castigated for not doing  anything about it. Herbert Hoover wanting to be re-elected in 1932, felt that he needed to show that he was sensitive to the situation. By naming the dam after himself, he thought that he could draw attention to the fact that he was instrumental in starting the project. With over 5000 people to be employed on the project, Hoover thought that he could claim credit for trying to do something about the unemployment situation which was extreme at that time. Unfortunately for Hoover, it did not work out that way.
Looking down the front of Hoover Dam
On May 8, 1933, Harold Ickes, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Secretary of the Interior, decided that the name of the dam should be "Boulder Dam", its original name. The reason for this was no doubt political.

On April 30, 1947, the resolution renaming the dam back to Hoover Dam was passed by congress and signed by President Harry S. Truman. Today Hoover Dam is still the name of this structure.

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