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Just Add Water: 1942

Just Add Water: 1942

June 1942. "Shasta Dam, Shasta County, California. The dam under construction." Medium format acetate negative by Russell Lee for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Volume of concrete

This incredibly effective perspective relays the strength and the massive volume of concrete used on this dam: 15 Million tons!
The dam flooded an old mining town, Kennett, under approximately 400 feet of water.

America in the time of war.

Look at this. If anyone had doubts America was in danger of losing a war on two fronts look no further than to these awe inspiring historical pics of major construction projects, factories, or any other infrastructure all underway during a very troubling era. As Yamamoto mentioned: A sleeping giant was indeed awakened.


I'm seeing a couple of OSHA violations here. Specifically, think the guy in the front of the picture on the edge of the dam, balancing on a narrow piece of wood, forgot to put on his safety harness. But he's probably wearing sure footed leather sole shoes.

Remember Guys

If you drop a tool, you get to climb down and bring it back. Oh, by the way, you're off the clock until you get back.

Just add color

Only two guys working

I only see two guys working. They must have put in some major overtime to build such a dam.

Needs water now!

Currently Shasta Lake is 37% full -- about half of what the average level in other years was this time of year.

Dam dam dam

We have almost forgotten how crucial dam-building was to the New Deal and how much it transformed America via resource management and rural electrification, as well as job creation.

Dams became patriotic symbols, and rather sexy: it seems amazing that Life magazine chose a photo of Montana's Fort Peck Dam (by Margaret Bourke-White) for the cover of its first issue. Boulder (later Hoover) Dam, dedicated in 1935, became a major tourist attraction because U.S. Route 93 went across the dam's crest. (You can still drive across, but this has become much more complicated.)

The Shasta Dam, which Lee photographed, had been envisioned for two decades, but it took the New Deal and the Bureau of Reclamation to get it built starting in 1937.

Like an Egyptian

Seeing photographs of projects like this are always amazing to look at. And then you go back and look at all the things built before power tools. Absolutely incredible what man can do.

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