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Glenn Davis - Las Vegas Photographer by Maryse Lundering-Timpano

By Su Kim Chung on December 12, 2016 3:46 PM | Permalink

                  

Glenn Davis photographed a sailboat on Lake Mead near the crest of Boulder Dam from the upstream Nevada side. The dam was officially renamed Hoover Dam in 1947.  (PH: 0020-0126)

UNLV history graduate student Maryse Lundering-Timpano worked as a summer intern in Special Collections this past June and July creating finding aids for our many historic photograph collections. Here she describes a collection of particular interest to her.

                               

Here Davis photographed the main construction site of the Boulder Dam project from the downstream side. (PH: 0020-0072)

Hoover Dam was the first federal government project in Southern Nevada, and it kick started growth in the area. We've all seen a typical tourist photo of the Hoover Dam. The image usually includes just the giant wall of concrete, often out of focus, surrounded by a crowd of people. During my time as a summer intern in Special Collections, I had the opportunity to create a finding aid for the Glenn Davis Photograph Collection (PH-00020), comprised mostly of images of the Hoover Dam. Davis was a professional photographer in Las Vegas who captured the American Southwest through his camera's lens during the 1930s and 1940s.

                         

This image shows groundwork in progress for diversion tunnel #2 on the Nevada side of the dam. (PH: 0020-0056)

This collection resonated with me because I'm a shutterbug who longs for a return to developing my own photos in the darkroom. I know the process of loading film into a camera and setting up a prospective shot. Then there's the blindfolded dance of loading the film onto a developing reel, inserting a negative into an enlarger for fine tuning an image onto a piece of light sensitive paper, then taking that piece of paper through four developing baths. It's the type of work that takes time to be mastered.

                          

A Union Pacific streamliner was brought to the construction site through the efforts of Six Companies, Inc., a corporation formed from six different companies for the purpose of building the dam.  (PH: 0020-0066)

The process Glenn Davis used in capturing these images was incredibly intimate and time consuming, but the end results were worth it. Davis produced photographs of the Hoover Dam during every stage of construction, shooting rarely-seen angles that have not been widely circulated. Among the images are views of the land prior to construction of the dam as well as photos demonstrating the slow progress of concrete laying. Also pictured are the scaffolds built into the side of the canyon and the interior framework of the dam. The images in Glenn Davis' collection convey a sense of the hard work and determination it took to thrive in the desert and to accomplish such a monumental feat of engineering.

                           

A man paddles a rowboat on the upstream side of the dam. Interestingly, the lake and canyon portions of the image look to be photographed, although the dam itself looks like a drawing. (PH: 0020-0109)