Narration of pictures taken of the Narrows dam construction (1945-1947) as told by Tom Carr(an iron worker on the job) to Hugh Hopkins. Pictures by Tom Carr.
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Additional notes. The concrete had to be the right temperature and consistancy and was tested regularly by engineers on the job. In the winter time they would use hot water and in the summer time ice would be added to regulate the temperature. Each batch was tested and was dumped if not up to specs. A foreman at the pour site would signal to the hoist operator by means of a bell to tell him when he was over the pour side and when the bucket was to be lowered. When in position the bucket would be opened by an air hose. Then workers using vibrators would work the concrete down.
Tom’s main job as an iron worker was getting supplies to the dam site. They would ride the hoisting hook on a platform, hook up the material and have it moved to the work site.
They would signal the cable hoist operator in the operator shanty using hand signals. More often they used their helmets because it was shiny and could be seen easier. At night time they would use a flash light. They also hooked up the concrete bucket the same way except they didn’t ride the platform with the concrete bucket attached. They worked on a special rail car pushed by a “dinky”(a small electric power unit). It held two buckets. The empty one dropped in by the hoist operator. The iron workers would take the lifting cables off of this bucket and attach them to a full bucket, then signal the operator to lift away. Then the dinky operator would move the car to the concrete mixing tower and load the empty bucket then return it to the lifting site. Several times the cable supporting the concrete bucket parted dumping concrete all over. There was a tremendous strain on the cables lifting the heavy concrete.
One afternoon a large storm blew up raising the river level threatening the material on the construction site. Tom and a crew went out on the hook and loaded the material in a basket and signaled the operator to hoist away. They were lifted only a short way when the power went out and they were stranded on the hoist in the dark. He said the storm raged with lightening and rain. The rushing water was not too far below them and rising. In about a half an hour power was restored and they were lifted away.
Tom worked the 4-12 shift. He made $6-$7 dollars/hr, a good sum then. He was paid double on Sunday. His union dues were $10/month. His boss, the riggers boss, was Lee King.
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