Civil engineer, Project participant
1882 – 1946
Who was Frank Crowe?
Born in Trenholmville, Quebec, Crowe attended the Governor Dummer Academy, matriculating to the University of Maine where he graduated in 1905 with a degree in civil engineering. The University's Francis Crowe Society is named in his honor. Crowe became interested in the American west during a lecture from Frank Weymouth, a guest speaker from the United States Bureau of Reclamation. He signed up for a summer job before the end of the lecture. That summer job began a 20 year career with the reclamation service that would change the face of the American west. In 1924, Frank Crowe left the United States Bureau of Reclamation to join the construction firm of Morrison-Knudsen in Boise, Idaho. Morrison-Knudsen had recently signed a partnership with the larger Utah Construction Company to build dams.
While working on the Arrowrock Dam in Idaho, Crowe pioneered two practices that are crucial to the construction of large dams. The first was a pneumatic delivery system to transport concrete and the second was a system of overhead cables to allow the pneumatic concrete to be pumped at any point on the construction site. With this technique, Crowe built some of the largest dams in the American west, including the Hoover Dam, Parker Dam 155 miles downstream from Hoover; Copper Basin and Gene Wash Dams on the Colorado Aqueduct system; and Shasta Dam in Northern California. All these dams were important but none approached the mythic scale or mystique of Hoover Dam.²