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Before visiting Hoover Dam, we'd been told in Vegas that the place was haunted because as it was being built, several workers fell into the vats of concrete as the dam was poured. Their bodies disappeared below the surface of the liquid, which hardened before they could be fished out - they were therefore entombed there forever. Quite a chilling tale!


When we got on the behind-the-scenes "Hardhat Tour" of the dam (which has unfortunately been discontinued in our post-9/11 world), the first thing that the guide did was to dispel the myth of workers being buried within the walls. He showed us photos of the concrete being poured, and to allow it to dry quickly and evenly, the molds were very shallow. If you fell, you would simply go to your knees, stand up, and step over the edge of the mold. So much for urban legends, I suppose.


Not that there weren't deaths that occurred during construction of the dam - there were 112, to be exact. According to Wikipedia, one of them was J. G. Tierney, a surveyor who drowned on December 20, 1922 while looking for an ideal spot for the dam. His son, Patrick W. Tierney, was the last man to die working on the dam's construction, 13 years to the day later. The 112 deaths do not include 42 more that were attributed to pneumonia - workers alleged that this diagnosis was a cover for a death from carbon monoxide poisoning, brought on by the use of gasoline-fueled vehicles in the diversion tunnels, and used by the construction company to avoid paying compensation claims. Oddly enough, no deaths of non-workers from pneumonia were recorded in Boulder City during the construction period... I guess that you had to be a worker to catch it.


As to any hauntings, our tour guide said that he hadn't experienced anything supernatural at the dam, but there were stories among the workers about seeing a man dressed in old-fashioned work clothes, usually in an area where he shouldn't be, and when he is challenged the man just disappears. Another popular story concerns footsteps echoing through the corridors on the concrete floors, with no one in sight to make them. When I asked him if he thought the stories were true, he smiled, shrugged, and said, "There certainly are a lot of them!"


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