Celebration of 75th Anniversary of the Groundbreaking of the Shasta Dam

Narrator: In 1938, thousands of hard-working
people arrived in rural Shasta County to build a
dam, and a dream. Shasta Dam brought much-needed work during
the Great Depression. It meant renewed pride for
the builders, and in the country. Starting as a New Deal project during the
Roosevelt administration, the construction of
Shasta Dam provided work to 4,700 people and drastically changed the economy of rural Shasta
Daniel C. Brown: My name is Daniel C. Brown —
Interviewer: Brownie, is that…? Daniel: That’s what everybody called me on the
dam. Interviewer: When did you work on the dam?
Daniel: Started in September of 1938. I was one
year out of college, out in Reno. Interviewer: How did you hear about working on
the dam, Brownie? Daniel: My dad followed the dams all across the
country, and he was one of the first ones hired
here. They started their numbers out at 500, I think it was. He got number 229, and I got 533.
My first job was right up there on the hill, clearing
brush for that road to come down here. Was a little bitty hamburger joint up there, so they started
there, clearing the brush to come down here to the
front of the dam up there. I took my shirt off, and I was just grabbing all this
and throwing it on the fire… Interviewer: You were a kid. Dan.
Daniel: …and I got the poison oak so bad. [laughs]
Interviewer: Oh, my gosh. Jim Brock: I worked on the Grand Coulee Dam, and finished it up there. Then, we come down here to Redding to work on Shasta Dam. Interviewer: You were talking…what did you do
when you first went out there, when you got hired? Jim: I was hanging on the cliffs with a rope, knocking all the loose rocks and stuff down. I did that there for about two or three weeks. Then I went on the groating crew. That is, they went in with a drill — a diamond drill — and drilled down in the rock, surface rock, that way. They drilled sometimes 100 feet or so into the rock.
Narrator: The builders arrived to find an
undeveloped area with no roads, water, or power.
Although they lived in tents, trailers, and hastily- built shelters, they managed to not only build
Shasta Dam, but they also built a thriving
community. Tour Guide: …down to the right now, is the service
road. This was actually built — those of you who
are builders know — this was built to get them down to the river level so they could actually start
excavation, build the construction camp, and the
things like that they needed to do before they actually started building the dam itself. Our first
stop that we’re going to be going to is the old
construction camp. You might be knowing it as the PCI Camp. This is where Pacific Constructors
Incorporated, who was the contractor, built over
100 homes for the families that were coming here to build the dam. On this side of the bus, you see these big towers?
This is known as the Shasta Switchyard. The
hospital was actually right up on the hill, right behind us, and where the switchyard is, is where
the dormitories were. That’s where the single folks
lived, right down here. Interviewer: Your name is?
Cecil Stinson: Cecil Stinson. Interviewer: Cecil, when did you come to work on
the dam? Cecil: April of ’40. I helped pour the first bucket of
concrete poured, and I just met the fellow that was
with me, today. We’ve been looking for each other for over sixty years.
Interviewer: Oh, my gosh. Who did you meet? Cecil: The fellow right there in the cap.
Interviewer: In the cap. Right here in the plaid shirt? Cecil: Yeah.
Interviewer: Cecil, can I bring him over here? Jim Carlton: You sure can. I’d be proud to get a picture with him. Interviewer: All right, and your name is?
Jim Carlton: I’m Jim Carlton. Interviewer: Jim Carlton. Cecil said he just met you
and he hasn’t seen you since a long time. Jim: Since 1940, and I didn’t even know him then.
Cecil: April of ’40. I think it was the 14th… Interviewer: April?
Jim: Was it April? I didn’t even know that. Cecil: April. I think it was the 14th of April we
poured the first bucket of concrete. Interviewer: Oh, my gosh, and you were on the
same crew then. Cecil: Yes. There was only four of us on there.
Jim: A guy come buy and says, “You, you, and you, and you, follow me,” and there’s where we ended
up. Interviewer: All right, so when I look at that picture
of the first bucket of concrete that’s poured, I’ll see
you guys in there, right? Cecil: The second one in, looking straight at the
camera, is Cecil. Interviewer: Very good. Do you know where you
were? Jim: No, I do not.
Interviewer: OK. Jim: I have no idea.
Cecil: He’s going to recognize himself. I’ve got an 8×10 of it.
Interviewer: OK. Jim: I sure hope I can recognize myself.
Interviewer: All right. Now… Cecil: There’s several stories I could tell you, but
it’d take a while. Interviewer: Give me a story, I’m ready. Hey, I’m
ready for a story. You’ve got a story? Cecil: Well, they were pumping concrete into the
railroad tunnel to plug it, and it was up to me to cut
the pipe off when the concrete got up to the pipe. There’s some big timbers, and I laid down and
went to sleep. They shook me, “Cecil, cut the pipe
off,” and they got me wired down to there so I can’t even move.
Interviewer: [laughs] Is that called sleeping on the
job? Cecil: That’s called sleeping on the job.
Interviewer: [laughs] Cecil: That was worse than sleeping in the sand
hoppers when the sand was warm and it was
raining outside… Narrator: Constructed for flood control, water
storage, and hydroelectric power, Shasta Dam is
the keystone facility of the Central Valley Project, the largest and most elaborate water project in the
nation. The Central Valley Project plays a key role in
California’s powerful economy, and because of
Shasta Dam and the CVP, the Central Valley is the richest agricultural region in the nation.
It is the builders of this engineering marvel we want to honor. Their hard work and determination, their craftsmanship, their sense of community, and want to honor. Their hard work
and determination, their craftsmanship, their
sense of community, and their dedication to their country is where the real story of Shasta Dam
begins. These humble men and women came with nothing
but hope, a dream, and the willingness to work
hard. They have left their monument to a far better life for all.

3 thoughts on “Celebration of 75th Anniversary of the Groundbreaking of the Shasta Dam

  1. Special thanks to Ron Harrington of the Shasta Lake Bulletin; Sheri Harral and Bob Gabour, Reclamation Public Affairs.

  2. That woman behind the camera sounds like she's speaking to a bunch of little kids.

  3. Jim Brock who she interviewed is my Great Uncle. He is still living in Redding at the lively age of 103! I never knew why they moved from Odessa,TX to California in the mid 50's. I just remember going to Redding to visit every Summer, especially after my Grandmother moved there. He turned 103 in Dec. 2015.

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