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 Dennis McBride
Boulder City Museum & Historical Association

Boulder City Photographers #1 - George Roy Nock
When the government announced it intended building Hoover Dam, not only did thousands of laborers pour into southern Nevada, but many noted artists and writers followed to document the colossal project. Among these was photographer George Roy Nock, very well known at the time, seldom heard of today. Yet his photographs of old Boulder City and Hoover Dam construction are among the finest which have come down to us.

Nock was born June 1, 1883 in Ohio. He showed artistic talent in school and won prizes for drawing. He was only able to finish third grade, however, before he had to leave to work. When he was 15 an uncle paid George's way to a photography school in Harper, Kansas where he worked part-time making tin types. In 1900, when he was only 17, Nock joined a group of itinerant photographers traveling the West in a Pullman train car which served as a darkroom and photo shop. Nock eventually stayed with a brother in Nampa, Idaho and opened his first studio. Over the next several years Nock's reputation grew: he provided portraits of army personnel and troops at posts in the West and Midwest and became friends with both General “Black Jack” Pershing and Pancho Villa during the Mexican revolution. Nock was particularly noted for his panoramic photos and was among the first photographers to make this otherwise expensive format affordable and popular.

In about 1931 Nock took a job as official photographer for the Morrison-Knudsen Company on the Boulder Canyon Project. He moved his family to Boulder City, and in 1933 took over the Barnhill photographic studio where Tony's Pizza stands today.

Nock was out in the field nearly everyday throughout the construction period. He lugged his panoramic camera down to the Six Companies steel yard to shoot a famous photo of workers posed by their cranes and trucks. His panoramic photo of the gravel washing plant was recently used in an archeological assessment to identify structures long buried under Lake Mead. His photographs of the streets and buildings of Boulder City—including a famous panoramic view of the town taken from Water Tank Hill—are among the clearest and best representative of the new city. Once he took over the Barnhill studio, Nock was able to offer an enhancement of his photos that no other Hoover Dam photographer had been able to provide: hand-tinting. It's impossible to know how true Nock's colors were, but his images are the earliest color photographs of Boulder City and of Hoover Dam construction.

When Hoover Dam was finished, Nock stayed on with Morrison-Knudsen for awhile, but eventually moved back to Idaho where he opened a small studio in Cascade. Nock died there on December 18, 1961 never knowing how historically valuable his images of Hoover Dam and Boulder City would become.

Sponsored by the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum.

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