The Dog who “owned” Hoover Dam


Hoover Dam, 2016

Even when we go back to the same old places, we find something new.

Both of us have visited the Hoover Dam (formerly the Boulder Dam) several times as far back as our youth.  In 1997 and 2009, we drove across it to get from Nevada to Arizona.

In 2009, they were building the new O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge (See An Itinerary for the Southwest U.S.)   It was quite amazing to see it under construction then, and it was fun to walk across the bridge now.

Mike O’Callaghan was a newspaper editor and Nevada Governor.  Pat Tillman was a successful professional football player for the Arizona Cardinals who enlisted in the Army after 9-11, became a Ranger, served in Iraq and was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire.  The bridge opened in October 2010.

2009 - Under Construction

2009 – Bridge under construction

One can visit a Visitors’ Center and Museum and even tour the dam.  But this time we just walked out onto it. Coming back, we noticed a plaque we had not seen before.  It memorializes an un-named dog who became the construction workers’ unofficial mascot.

Workers lived in the newly created town of Boulder City.  Many commuted on a large double decker bus with a capacity – as the signs says – of 150 men and one dog.

The men overfed the dog, so the commissary prepared him one meal a day which he carried to the worksite in a paper bag.


O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge, 2016

He had free rein of the job site, up ladders, on catwalks and on the skiff where he barked to let the operator know when he wanted off.  He chased wild ring-tailed cats through the tunnels.  He challenged other dogs when they strayed onto the site or were brought on illegally by tourists.

Unfortunately, one day he went to sleep under a truck and was run over by the unsuspecting driver.

Workers jackhammered him a tomb.  Today you can still see the tomb, a plaque and the sign from which I derived this information about “the dog who owned a dam.”

Click on photos to enlarge.

P.S.: Concrete creates heat as it “cures.”  There are 582 miles of 1-inch cooling pipe in Hoover Dam’s concrete to help it cure evenly, and it will not be completely cured until 2060.  I don’t think we’ll be back if there is a ceremony then.


About ralietravels

Ray and Alie (Ralie) are a retired couple who love to travel. Even during our working years, we squeezed a trip in whenever we could, often when we had to stretch the budget to do so. We have been fortunate to vacation in all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada and one territory and a little more than 50 countries. We like to drive, but we particularly love to travel back roads to find unusual sights, people, and experiences.
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One Response to The Dog who “owned” Hoover Dam

  1. Sue Slaght says:

    Oh so sad about the poor pup. Sounds like a lovely way to honor their canine friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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