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Bc History
by Roseanne Shoaff, Mgr.
Boulder Dam Hotel
Hard Boiled Hats
Over the past 75 years, stories have been told regarding
the building of the Hoover Dam. One continuous story told
is that men are buried in the cement of the Hoover Dam.
This is merely a myth that has been proven false. In April
2005, a published author by the name of Guy Rocha claimed
another myth is that the men of the Hoover Dam made their
own “hard-boiled hats.”
According to Joseph E. Stevens, Hoover Dam, An
American Adventure, published in 1956, the high scaler’s
job was so dangerous from falling objects that some of the
men created their own “hard-boiled hats.” And, as told by
Stephens, the men dipped their soft caps into tar and allowed
the tar to harden into a tough shell. Stephens is quoted in
his book, “The effectiveness of this homemade headgear
was demonstrated when several workers were struck hard
enough for their jaws to be broken but escaped skull fracture
because of the protection provided by their helmets.”
Guy Rocha, however, claims he has proven evidence
the hard hats at the Hoover Dam were never hand-made,
but instead ordered in mass quantity by the Six Companies,
which required all workers to wear the hats by November,
1931. Rocha has an article in Sierra Sage Magazine, April
2005, which claims, “The Six Companies constructing
Hoover Dam first required all its workers to wear hard hats
by November 1931. The Las Vegas Review Journal in its
October 28, 1931 issue wrote, ‘Nobody will be allowed in
the canyon bottom without one of the helmets henceforth,
according to Ed Brockman, supervisor of insurance and
safety for the Big Six.’” Rocha continues to claim the hard
hats were purchased from San Francisco’s E.D. Bullard
Company.
Rocha sites another article from the Review Journal of
April 20, 1932, “A carpenter wearing a hard hat survived a
blow to the head from a four by six timber. Although the hat
was dented, the carpenter quickly returned to work.” Rocha
also states, “While the hard hat had been invented more
than a decade before construction began on Hoover Dam,
in all probability it was the first major public works project
in the United States requiring use of a hard hat.”
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