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The Battle Over Hetch HetchyAmerica's Most Controversial Dam and the Birth of Modern Environmentalism$
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Robert W. Righter

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195149470

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195149470.001.0001

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To Build a Dam

To Build a Dam

(p.134) CHAPTER 7 To Build a Dam
The Battle Over Hetch Hetchy

Robert W. Righter (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter chronicles the building of the O'Shaughnessy Dam, the largest concrete dam in the United States when completed in 1923, and the keystone of the Hetch Hetchy water and power system. It covers the difficulty of financing and constructing a dam, and facilities deep in the mountains of California. It explores the contractors and the lives of the workers who built the system. It asks whether the system, completed in 1934, was worth the lawsuits, bond issues, political discord, construction problems, the cost in dollars, and the loss of human life. The answer was no because San Francisco had other viable alternatives. Nevertheless, the Hetch Hetchy system represents one of the three great California public works projects of its day. The other two were the San Francisco Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Keywords:   dam construction, O'Shaughnessy Dam, Michael O'Shaughnessy, Labor Issues, Public Works Financing, Hydro power, San Francisco Water and Power System

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