61°F
weather icon Clear

Building’s moniker traced to its slogan

As deadline approached, Amy reminded me that the two of us had frequently puzzled over that long, old, cream-colored building on the west side of U.S. Highway 93 just north of Buchanan Boulevard: the one with “Safety First” emblazoned in big white letters at the roof line. What was that all about?

First, I quizzed the wise dudes around the Romeo breakfast table. Several offered up something but no clear pattern was discernible. I did get the idea it was used by the Boy Scout Eagles and run by the city’s parks and recreation department.

Roger Hall, who heads that city agency, politely sat me down at his desk and informed me that the Safety First landlord was actually Lake Mead National Recreation Area. He gave me a couple of contact names.

Over the next few days I learned a fair amount. The ownership of the land has not been in contention since the United States won it from Spain in 1848. In 1928, the Bureau of Reclamation, part of the Interior Department, was given the reins in anticipation of the big project in Boulder Canyon. They then contracted with Six Companies Inc. to build the dam and the necessary accoutrements to it.

The core of the building was first erected in 1931 by that familiar entity and was captioned in an early photo of the open-sided structure as the “6 Companies Maintenance Building.” That name appears in differing form several times, captioned with the words maintenance, engineering, railroad or combinations thereof.

At some point siding was put up on the building and references emphasized the railroad. But I got different descriptions of that, as well. Photographs at the Boulder City-Hoover Dam Museum identify it as for maintenance and repair of train engines and cars, but oral explanations called it a switching station for the delivery of steel and concrete, which was loaded by a big crane onto trains that ran out to the dam. The original crane and tracks are still in the building so I kind of think both versions were true.

The words “Safety First” were painted decades ago as a cautionary slogan, not the name of a building, but it is now commonly called by that name.

Six Companies left after completion of construction and its local assets reverted to the Bureau of Reclamation. That prestigious agency still has a major presence in Boulder City and Patti Aaron there made a gracious effort to round up some longtime employees who could clue me in on the midlife activities at Safety First. She was not successful since the two who knew much had already started their Christmas holiday.

The reclamation folks realized, as Lake Mead was filling, that the onrush of tourists and water sport enthusiasts was not anything they knew how to handle so the NPS created a new division named Boulder Dam Recreation Area, which was renamed Lake Mead National Recreation Area in 1947.

This agency, headquartered in Boulder City, has 1.5 million acres encompassing the land around Lake Mead and all the way south to Laughlin. Its public affairs officer, Christie Vanover, gave me background information and then met me at the building complex for a guided tour.

The street named Katzenbach Drive is a one-block driveway into the complex. There are newish cement-block buildings for the local firehouse to fight occasional fires in Lake Mead properties and a dispatch center for first responders throughout five national parks in Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

The midsection of the main building had a sizable, cement-block section added in the ’60s to house offices for engineers, carpenters and electricians. Scott Bell, the acting chief of engineering, is the head honcho at Safety First with about 20 full-time employees. The entire building runs to 32,000 square feet.

The high-ceilinged floor space in the main bay is sometimes lent out to good causes, hence the story about Eagle Scouts doing sign making, etc. It’s also used for the occasional all-employee meeting when 100 to 150 government workers gather for information and inspiration.

Dave Nelson retired to Boulder City in 2003 after a career with the FICO score company. He is vice president for the local Sons of Norway.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Vaccine much more than medical tool

By definition, a vaccine is “a preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Community residents must fight COVID with united front

This is the season of Thanksgiving and my hope is that everyone had a good day and a good meal. That has not always been easy during this year of the pandemic. Many of us have had losses or illness that made the year so difficult. We are indeed living in a time that has impacted all of us in ways large and small.

Give thanks for holidays

Happy Thanksgiving.

Fight to protect freedoms

I appreciated the recent commentary by Daniel Benyshek regarding vaccine and mask mandates. He points out the “dutiful responsibility” that freedom-loving Americans should embrace, and I agree wholeheartedly.

Annexation is not development

I wanted to take this opportunity to share more information with our Boulder City neighbors about the city of Henderson’s proposed annexation of portions of Eldorado Valley, located along the southeast boundary of Henderson and south of Railroad Pass.

Life is like box of chocolates

In the movie “Forrest Gump,” the titular character says, “My mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’”

We must balance freedom, civic responsibility

Despite the overwhelming consensus of the American professional medical community (including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Nurses Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health) that advocate for COVID-19 vaccination and basic disease prevention behaviors such as mask wearing in public in order to lessen the savage toll of the coronavirus pandemic, some Americans remain skeptical of the necessity, safety and efficacy of these public health measures. Indeed, it is likely that no amount of expert medical advice or corroborative scientific data will convince these skeptics and conspiracy theorists otherwise.

Let’s get educated

Following events in Boulder City can sometimes feel like riding the wave machine at a water park. Lots of highs and lows. Some of us are just along for the ride. Some are determined to get to the front, pushing and shoving as we go. Then, some of us like standing on the edge and blowing a whistle.

It’s an honor to serve

Today is Veterans Day. It’s a day we set aside to recognize and thank those who served our country in any branch of the military.

Action needed to halt Henderson’s sprawl

Mayor (Kiernan) McManus’ Sept. 1 column touted his future plans to conserve wastewater. At the tail end, he offhandedly mentioned Henderson’s intent to annex county land below Railroad Pass to promote its own expansive growth plans. You and I might have missed those three sentences if we weren’t paying close attention. But somehow Henderson’s mayor, Debra March, was well aware.