Boulder City Magazine is a monthly publication full of information about Boulder City and Southern Nevada. Boulder City Magazine features the Boulder City Home Guide, a real estate guide to Boulder City and Southern Nevada.

Boulder City History
by Roseanne Shoaff, Manager
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.”

On behalf of the Boulder City Museum and Historical Association.

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