After losing out on the high dam job, Harvey returned to his home in Alhambra to battle his demons. Over the next year and a half, Harvey was in and out of a sanatorium—what we’d call today a rehab facility— on five different occasions as he battled alcoholism. As Herndon revealed, the booze was winning. “He drank anything he could get, ate sleeping pills by the handful, and if he could get anything stronger, it was okay with him.”

Even so, Slocum kept his hand in the business. Early into his confinement, Slocum was hired once again by Pacific Constructors to prepare a bid for the construction of Shasta Dam across the Sacramento River in northern California. At a height of 602 feet, the concrete gravity dam is the eighth tallest dam in the United States, and its reservoir, Lake Shasta, is the biggest in the country.

Pacific Constructors’ main competitor for the work was CBI, which had outbid them for the high dam work. This time, Pacific Constructors won the contract. Slocum’s bid of $35 million was just $250,000 less than CBI’s. It was reported in June 1938 that several dozen workers planned to leave the Grand Coulee Dam project in the hopes of working once more for their old boss, Harvey Slocum, on the Shasta job.

However, Harvey wasn’t hired to run it. Trust must have been an issue for Pacific Constructors. But Slocum himself would have likely admitted he was in no condition to take on another massive dam as he continued his fight to quit drinking.

Shasta Dam and Lake Shasta (Bureau of Reclamation photo archives)

Over a year later in the early summer of 1939, Slocum woke up back in the sanatorium in Pasadena. Dredging back through his bleary memory, he remembered starting out several days before to look at a dam site he’d been asked to prepare an estimate for. But he couldn’t remember ever making it out of town. Slocum told Herndon, “That binge nearly finished me.”

Disgusted with himself, he rang for the nurse. Herndon told the rest of the story.

“’Tell my wife to come get me,’ he said.

“’But, Mr. Slocum,’ said the nurse. ‘You just came in at two o’clock this morning. You can’t leave now.’

“‘The hell I can’t,’ he said. ‘Call my wife.’

“Mrs. Slocum came and got him and he hasn’t had a drink since.

“‘I didn’t care what they thought about me,’ he said. ‘When I had no more use for myself, that’s when I quit.’ “Rested up, clear-eyed and alert, Slocum went out to find a job.”


Friant Dam and Millerton Lake (Friant Water Authority

Slocum knocked on several doors, but Harvey’s reputation as a drunk preceded him and the doors stayed closed. That was until he went to the man who gave him his first dam job and many more after that: H. Stanley Bent. Bent Brothers and its partner, Griffith Company, brought Slocum on board to estimate the Friant Dam project in central California.

Friant Dam and Shasta Dam, both Bureau of Reclamation Depression-era projects, were the major components of California’s Central Valley Water Project to bring desperately needed water to farmers. At 300 feet high and 3,430 feet long, Friant Dam spanned the San Joaquin River in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and connected the hillsides of Madera and Fresno counties. It was the 4th largest concrete gravity dam in the world and created a reservoir 15 miles long, later named Millerton Lake.

The Visalia Times described the dam’s value to the region. “Outlet conduits on either side will serve to divert water into the Friant-Kern and Madera canals, which will carry irrigation water to thirsty lands of five counties. Friant dam is to hold waters of the San Joaquin River, and its vital role will be to preserve the rich agricultural empire famous the world over for its raisins, table grapes, sweet wines, peaches, plums, apricots, pears, oranges, lemons, nuts, olives, figs, alfalfa, cotton, grain, onions, peas, lettuce, sugar beets and potatoes. The San Joaquin River flows out of the Sierra Nevada south of Yosemite National Park and near Sequoia and General Grant National Parks.”

Once again, Slocum was up against his nemesis, CBI, for the job. When the bids were opened in September of 1939, Slocum’s $8,700,000 bid on behalf of Bent-Griffith was $400,000 under CBI’s. They also beat out a group led by MWAK partner George Atkinson.

Bent-Griffith further placed their trust in Slocum and hired him to oversee construction of the work.

To say construction of Friant Dam was widely anticipated would have been an understatement. The groundbreaking event in early November was attended by an estimated 50,000 people, nearly the entire population of the San Joaquin Valley, including 1,000 Kern County farmers who were carried out to the site by a special train.

Work immediately began on the excavation of the 1,200,000 cubic yards of overburden and building the workers’ camp. One hundred men were put to work and that number would soon swell to 500. Slocum emphasized that job applicants from San Joaquin Valley would be given priority, and the only men he’d bring in from the outside would be superintendents, foremen and other key people he’d worked with on other big dam jobs.

It was the tail end of the Great Depression and jobs remained scarce. By the end of November, hundreds of men were showing up each day looking for work. On some days, 1,000 stood in line, in all kinds of weather, looking for a job. There was already a huge waiting list, and Slocum had to let the other men know their prospects for work were hopeless.

“We cannot even begin to take care of the men who are on our waiting list, let alone those who are coming out to the job each day. We have a waiting list of 900 workers and at the most can give jobs to only one-third of them. We have the telephone number and home address of every one of them and will notify them when we need them. We do not want any more men at the job and cannot hire them if they do come out here.”

By the end of the month, 600 men were at work on the dam and 85% of them were residents of San Joaquin Valley. Slocum said the nationwide broadcast of the groundbreaking ceremony at Friant created the impression thousands would be hired by the contractors. “This is entirely false. We have all the men we want and cannot take any others. They must look elsewhere for there will not be any more jobs here than cannot be filled from our waiting list.”

It was fortuitous for Slocum and Bent-Griffith that work at Grand Coulee Dam was drawing to a close. Slocum and Stanley Bent visited Coulee at the end of 1939 and purchased several pieces of heavy equipment from CBI, including two seven-story high double cantilever cranes, several diesel-electric locomotives and rail cars, sandblasting machines, and concrete mixers.

Under Harvey’s direction, work on Friant proceeded at a feverish pace. By the end of December, 700 men were on the job with 1,400 now on the waiting list. The workers’ camp was complete and full. A three-mile railroad to the dam site was nearly finished to carry the rock and gravel from the downstream riverbed to the concrete mixing plant. Slocum boasted that he would begin pouring concrete at Friant before Shasta. On one side of the excavation, gigantic tractor-drawn carryalls moved tons of earth toward the shore to create a temporary dam across part of the river. On the other side, a canal was ripped out of solid rock into which the river was diverted to allow the men to dig out the foundation of the dam. Other men were erecting trestles made of wood and steel across the river. Suspended from the trestles were the hammerhead cranes that would deliver the concrete to the dam in multi-ton buckets.

In February Slocum added a third shift. Slocum hired an additional 300 men, for a total of 1000, and work on the dam continued round the clock. A couple of months later Slocum announced that work on Friant Dam had caught up with Shasta. Although work on Shasta had been underway for two years, and Friant dam for only nine months, Slocum insisted there wasn’t a race.

“It just so happens that with the same size plant we have caught up with Shasta Dam but that does not mean we are in a race,” said Slocum. “A race, as has been reported, would mean dumping a lot of the boss’ money into the river and we are not doing that.”

Slocum may not have wanted to call it a race, but the Bureau of Reclamation consultants overseeing the progress at Friant and Shasta weren’t so inhibited. The Bureau’s supervising engineer, Walker Young, said, “It’s going to be a neck and neck race. At Friant they have not encountered the many problems they have at Shasta and the plant is smaller than the construction set up at Shasta. Progress on both dams appears ahead of schedule.”

Harvey Slocum, left, with R.B. Williams for first concrete pour at Friant Dam (Oroville Mercury Register, August 1, 1940)

The first concrete was poured at Friant on July 29, 1940. Slocum hosted a number of members of the Kern County Chamber of Commerce and other dignitaries to witness the milestone. The scene was described in the Tulare Advance Register. “With the long arms of giant hammerhead cranes reaching out over the abyss where the dam will form and augmented by the spectacular whirly cranes which reach 185 feet from their base, the scene at the  dam site is one that the spectator will never forget.”

As the work at Grand Coulee Dam wound down, more of its workers sought jobs at Friant. Concerned about blowback for poaching from his competitor, Slocum sent a telegram to Edgar Kaiser, CBI’s project manager at Grand Coulee. “Please post a copy of this telegram. No men will be employed by us coming from Coulee Dam without a company release.”

Besides, the waiting list for men seeking work at Friant was already bulging.

Friant topped out and the last bucket of concrete was poured in June of 1942. World War II was in full swing and the depletion of manpower and supplies to support the war effort delayed the dam going into full operation. In 1944 the Utah Construction Company brought Slocum back to put the finishing touches on the dam.

World War II also delayed the completion of Shasta Dam, which finally topped out in January of 1945 at 600 feet, instead of the 800 feet as originally designed. Still, in its day, Shasta was the second tallest dam, and second largest concrete structure in the world, behind only Hoover Dam and Grand Coulee Dam.

Friant Dam was Slocum’s comeback project. He had to take a great deal of pride and satisfaction in having built Friant in half the time it took Pacific Constructors to complete Shasta. Was it also a revenge project? No one knows whether Harvey held any grudges or ill feelings against MWAK, CBI and Pacific Constructors. He frequently admitted his drinking was his biggest nemesis and any consequences from that were of his own doing.

Friant Dam was the last project Slocum did for Bent Brothers. It was also Stanley Bent’s last dam. Bent suffered a stroke shortly after its completion.

Slocum didn’t let Bent Brothers and Griffith Company down.

Moreover, he didn’t let himself down. He was three years sober. His life and career were back on track. Harvey was once again on top of his game in building dams.

And then came World War II.


Although Harvey Slocum was 55 years old, and too old to fight, he volunteered his services to the Navy’s construction arm, the Seabees, as a civilian consultant without rank or salary.

One of the first projects he worked on was the Alcan Highway (also known as the Alaska Highway) built in 1942. This 1,700-mile highway traversed western Canada and connected the United States to Alaska. There was grave concern the Japanese would attack the western flank of North America, including Alaska which, at the time, was an American-owned and protected territory, reachable only by sea and air. The Highway served as an additional means to transport troops, weapons and supplies and bolster the defense of Alaska and its Aleutian Islands. The Japanese did in fact invade and briefly occupied two of the Islands, Kiska and Attu, marking the only attack on United States territory during World War II, other than Pearl Harbor. Many U.S. soldiers died defending those islands.

Slocum also spent time consulting on military projects in the South Pacific, including Guam. On Guam, towards the end of the war, Slocum met and befriended Stuart Hawley Bartholomew. “Bart” was 20 years old and a member of the Seabees. He enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17 after Pearl Harbor was attacked. Bart wanted to be an aviator, but the Navy recognized his cerebral talents and enrolled him in the ROTC programs at the University of Washington and University of California Berkeley where he earned his engineering degree. Harvey became Bart’s mentor. They worked together on the Bull Shoals Dam and Bhakra Dam projects, and Bart ultimately earned his own international acclaim as one of the heavy construction industry’s top engineers.

Lt. Stuart “Bart” Bartholomew, World War II

Guam Breakwater Project

After the war, the Navy rewarded Slocum with a job taking over the Glass Breakwater in Guam. The breakwater was intended to create a protected harbor for the heavy traffic of American vessels that traveled to Guam as part of the U.S. post-war buildup of forces in the Pacific. Slocum may not have agreed with the term “rewarded.” Slocum shared with Herndon the job’s unique challenges and his lack of tolerance with bureaucracy.

And Herndon passed Slocum’s frustration on to anyone who would listen. “‘Goldangest thing you ever saw,’ Slocum said. ‘There was a great big coral reef, waves breaking over it. That’s where they were trying to build the breakwater. They were dumping soft rock broken into little pieces right on top of it, and they wondered why it washed away. I told ‘em what was wrong, but, oh, no, they had to argue with me. That’s the Navy for you—pay you to do a job, then insist you do it wrong.

“‘So they flew me back home to California, where they had a big model of the goldang thing rigged up. Big as this room, with waves sloshin’ over the reef and everything. Hell, even in the model you could see what was wrong. So, finally they let me do it my way.’”

Herndon went on: “First, he sought out the hardest rock on the island. That happened to be a high cliff on which stood the officers’ club, and another battle ensued. He won it, and dumped the rock, in pieces big as houses, behind the coral reef. Thus, he used the reef to absorb the first shock of the waves.

“Naturally, it worked, and Slocum promptly lost interest. What could be duller than dumping rock in the ocean? He moseyed around the island looking at things. Before long he was pulling out his notebook and sending the notes to the officer in charge. Months later, when an inspecting party of high brass praised the officer for his administration of the island, he opened a drawer in his desk and pointed to its contents. It was crammed with Slocum’s notes.”

Bart worked with Harvey on the breakwater, as did another former colleague, Joseph Cunningham. Joe was a couple of years younger than Slocum and had worked with him at Grand Coulee. Joe’s specialty was negotiating the purchase and delivery of the mountains of equipment, materials and supplies consumed on dam projects. After Harvey was fired, Joe continued working on Grand Coulee for MWAK and then CBI through the dam’s completion in 1942.

30-ton boulder moved to Guam Glass Breakwater, 1945 (Department of the Navy, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)


Harvey Slocum at Bull Shoals Dam, Collier’s magazine, May 5, 1951 (Photo by Bonnie Herndon)

In 1938 President Roosevelt authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to build several flood control dams on the White River in Arkansas. Shortly before World War II broke out, Slocum went to have a look for himself at the proposed site of the biggest dam to be erected on the Bull Shoals section of the river, about ten miles west of Mountain Home, Arkansas. He hiked the rocky hills flanking the river to look things over in case someone might want him to make an estimate.

While Slocum was in Guam building the breakwater, a consortium of nine contractors known as Ozark Dam Constructors reached out to him and asked him to do just that. With Bartholomew’s and Cunningham’s assistance, Slocum prepared the estimate for the Bull Shoals Dam from a Quonset hut on Guam. The Army Corps of Engineers accepted the $36,296,000 bid, and Ozarks hired Slocum to oversee the construction.

As Slocum told Rand, one of the reasons he was so proficient at estimating dam jobs was that he could visualize everything he was going to need. Sounds easy enough, and Harvey had the plans and specifications for the dam sent to him. But he had only visited the dam site one time, years before, and now, sitting on an island thousands of miles away, he had to “see” what needed to go in the estimate. The “vision” was shared with Herndon.

“Slocum had to have four cranes, each costing $175,000 and weighing far more than a big locomotive, and $500,000 worth of steel to build a trestle to hold them up. He had to operate a ferry over the river until he could build a bridge—which, when completed, was bigger than most highway bridges. He had to construct, equip and operate a seven-mile railroad. He had to build more miles of road than you find in many small towns, and staff and equip a small hospital. He had to provide a restaurant and housing for hundreds.

“He had to figure out how much all that would cost—and also how many paper clips the office would use, the salary of the man who’d sweep out the hospital and the cost of the broom he’d use to do it with, including depreciation. He had to set aside a definite sum of money for the local charities and congregations. Then, to get back to big stuff, he had to buy enough cement to make 2,100,000 cubic yards of concrete.”

Local residents, Monty and Helen Montgomery, also had a vision. Although World War II delayed the massive hydroelectric power and flood control dam for several years, the Montgomery’s bet the project would ultimately go forward. So, in 1946 they built six homes on a piece of what would, hopefully, become over 1,000 miles of shoreline of the resulting 87-mile-long reservoir, known as Bull Shoals Lake. This was the start of the town of Lakeview only a couple miles from the dam site. Soon after Ozarks was awarded the contract in 1947, Slocum arrived on site and leased five of the houses. He lived in one of them until his own home was complete, and the other four were occupied by construction foremen and their families.

Moving a River and a Mountain

Bull Shoals is another concrete gravity dam, 283 feet high, 230 feet thick at its base, and a half-mile across the top. When completed in 1951, it was the fifth largest dam in the country, and about the size of two Empire State Buildings, with the antennae chopped, off lying side by side and filled with concrete.

One of the first things Slocum had to do was figure out a way to divert the river away from the dam site. He explained to Herndon his two-step game plan of first tricking the river, and then trapping it.

“Looking downstream, the river hugged the right side of dam site. Slocum dug a new deeper channel on the left side of the valley floor. Before he blew out the last yard of dirt, however, he built across the still-dry new channel a dozen huge concrete structures side by side. Each was an enormous right triangle, 40 feet high, standing on end with the slanting edge pointed upstream. After the triangles were completed, Slocum called in his powder monkeys and blew out the last of the channel and the river couldn’t resist flowing into it.”

With the river now diverted, he began building the first half of the dam across the now dry original river channel with sluices—tunnels—at the bottom.

“When that part of the dam reached a height well over the high-water mark, he turned back to the twelve concrete piers. He fashioned great rectangular slabs of concrete and, with a crane, stacked them up against the slanted sides of the piers in the same way you’d pile brush against a lean-to. The slabs slid down neatly into place, and there was a dam! This cofferdam now blocked the river from the new channel and threw it right back into the old—only now the old channel had a real dam across it, and the water ran through the sluices.

“Slocum continued the dam across the valley, below the cofferdam, working on dry land all the way. When he had the dam all the way across he plugged up the sluices and the reservoir began to fill. The lean-to cofferdam is still there—240 feet underwater.”

Next up was figuring out how to get the aggregate—rock—to the concrete mixing plant at the dam site. Slocum wanted to use rock closer to the site, but the Army Corp of Engineers insisted that he use rock they deemed of higher quality from Lee Mountain that was over seven miles away.

Slocum told Herndon, “I could have built a highway and shuttled 30 trucks over it. Or I could have built a railroad and bought up some secondhand steam locomotives. But what I did do was call up and tell them I wanted me a belt conveyor. That’s the way to move stuff.” Harvey got hold of conveyor belt manufacturer Thomas Robins, Jr, and had the ‘belt road” assembled at the dam site.

Slocum had successfully used conveyor belts to transport the millions of tons of overburden and aggregate during the construction of Grand Coulee Dam. So he installed the second longest conveyor belt ever built in this country to bring the rock from the quarry at Lee Mountain to the dam site. It soon became one of the most popular tourist attractions in Arkansas.

The belt system consisted of 21 flights, like stairs, varying in length from 600 feet to 2,800 feet. Each flight, or section, was powered by a separate motor of 75-125 horsepower. It transported 650 tons of rock per day at a speed of seven miles per hour. The conveyor belt made it possible to pour over 6,600 cubic yards of concrete each day at the dam site. It only took seven men to operate and oversee the seven-mile belt system. It was interlocked and Slocum invented an automatic shut off in the event something went wrong at any section of the belt.

Slocum said, “In the last few months of its operation this winter and spring, people came from all over the world trying to buy the thing. You carry over 4,000,000 tons of rock on something and still get a good price for it, you’ve got something.”

A portion of the conveyor belt moving the rock at Bull Shoals (Collier’s magazine, May 5, 1951, Photo by Bonnie Herndon)

Slocum may have moved Lee Mountain to the dam site, but that doesn’t mean he agreed with the engineers. “From the very top, running on down to the very bottom, they are dedicated to harassment of private industry. When they have nothing to do they dream up another niggling expense to bother me with and then they feel better. Hah! Small insects infesting the taxpayers’ pocketbook.”

Harvey was just getting warmed up. “You’d think that when a man has an engineering degree he could use his knowledge to benefit the people by getting the work done cheaper. Hah! Not these boys! They’re not engineers, they’re two-bit cops enforcing stupid regulations they don’t even try to understand.”

John L. Kemple, the Army Corps engineer in charge at Bull Shoals, shrugged off Slocum’s tirade. “Harvey’s a construction man,” he told Herndon, “and a good one. No construction man likes to be held up on a job, and we all sympathize with him. No matter what he says, I can tell you this—we’d all go to bat for Harvey Slocum, and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion he’d do the same for us. But in the meantime, the taxpayers are spending good money for this dam and we want to see that it stays up.”

Another veteran engineer at Bull Shoals, E.C. Shipp, with over 30 years of experience and in charge of concrete operations, said he learned something new from Slocum every day. “He walks around with his head down and his hands in his pockets like he’s going to a fire, but damn if he doesn’t see more than any hundred men. Whatever he sees, he whips out that notebook from his back pocket and writes it down. Then he slips the note to whoever’s fault it is.” Shipp paused a minute and pulled out his own notebook. “I try to get it in mine before he gets it in his.”

Slocum writing in his notebook at Bull Shoals Dam, January 1951 (Photo by Bonnie Herndon)

Chilling The Rock

Before the rock was mixed with the cement, water and sand, the Army Corps of Engineers required it to be cooled to 54 degrees. The same thing was done at Grand Coulee Dam. Because cement heats up when mixed with water, chilled rock is added to minimize expansion of the concrete as it hardens and reduce cracking. Slocum built huge vats to hold the rock while ice water circulated through it. The first concrete was poured in September of 1948.

Safety First

Slocum was regarded as a “safety first” type of boss. V.L. Barbee was the insurance company’s safety man on the Bull Shoals Dam. A combat soldier and engineer during World War II, he was not given to sentimental talk, except when discussing Slocum’s safety record. “A lot of construction men, particularly the ones who came up the hard way, won’t give the safety man the time of day,” he said. “But the Old Man holds a safety meeting himself once a week. If I called him in the middle of the night and said I needed his help to keep a man from scratching his finger he’d be here in five minutes.”

Russell Showalter, a former grammar-school principal, was another safety man on the dam. He shared this story with Herndon. “During one cold spell last winter, huge icicles formed on the trestle high over the catwalk at the bottom of the dam. If one had dropped on a man beneath it would have killed him. I closed the catwalk, forcing hundreds of men to spend many aggregate man-hours taking the long way. Slocum backed me up.”

There used to be a dark rule of thumb in the heavy construction business that, for every million dollars spent on a job, one man would lose his life. The total cost of building Grand Coulee Dam was $163 million. Seventy-eight men were killed during the construction of the dam between 1933 and its opening in 1942; and at least 34 of those men died during Slocum’s watch between 1936 and 1937.

As of May of 1951, shortly before Bull Shoals Dam was completed, only two men had died on the $78,000.000 job, and both of those tragedies were due to human error.

Barbee told Herndon, “Haven’t lost a man on the trestle, haven’t lost a man in the quarry. There’s no job in the United States that compares with this one in safety, and it’s all due to the Old Man. He talks tough, but he’s as sentimental as they come.”

Chief Engineer Kemple concurred. “Incidentally, while the Old Man is giving out with all this tough talk, remember one thing: the safety record on this job is phenomenal. That softhearted old buzzard has saved a dozen lives at Bull Shoals Dam.”

Slocum cheekily responded to the compliments. “I’m gettin’ $300,000 back in insurance premiums. Sentimental, huh? Applesauce.”

Relocation Versus Revival

Big dams and the reservoirs they create force a lot of people to relocate, and Bull Shoals was no exception. Many families had to abandon their homes and farms and retreat before water swallowed them up. At the time, the government offered very little in the way of compensation for acreage within the flood zone. Some of the best and oldest farms in the region became lake bottom. Several towns were abandoned or, like the town of Oakland, relocated to higher ground.

Half-brothers Jack and E.G. Gregory remembered the “old Oakland,” where their family operated a cotton gin. Both worked on the Bull Shoals project: Jack helped clear the thousands of acres above the dam site, and E.G. was an equipment mechanic. Both agreed Bull Shoals was the “greatest thing that ever happened to the area. The lakes brought job growth.”

Jack added, “I would never want the region to go back like it was before.”

Another long-time resident and Arkansas State representative, Ed Gilbert, observed, “The lakes have been the key economic factor in our area’s growth. From tourism to our regional medical center, most of our successes can be traced to the building of the dams.”

President Harry S. Truman came to Mountain Home on July 1, 1952, to preside over the dedication and official opening of the Bull Shoals Dam. Harvey was already in India working on the biggest dam of his illustrious career, the Bhakra Dam.


Helen and Harvey had a unique relationship. She was by his side after the gas heater explosion, and during his painful recovery. Sometimes she would go with her husband when he was away for months at a time working on a dam.

Helen went to Grand Coulee with Harvey. They lived in Mason City and Helen socialized and played bridge with the wives of the other engineers and supervisors working on the dam. She also witnessed her husband’s struggles with alcohol and his frequent absences from home when he was at B Street. Herndon described Helen as a trim, pleasant woman with a friendly laugh. Harvey told him, “She has never once nagged me during our 30 years of marriage, or even asked me where I’d been.”

And she stayed by his side after he was canned by MWAK and during his long recovery when he finally kicked the booze. Harvey told Herndon, “One time she was taking me down to the sanatorium after I’d been on another bat. I was huddled up on the front seat and all of a sudden I wondered why in hell she was puttin’ up with me. I asked her. She just looked at me and said, ‘You guess.’ That’s all I ever got out of her.”

Mrs. Slocum had nothing to say about the bad old days, but she did tell Herndon, “There’s never been a dull moment. How could there be with a man who builds the biggest things in the world?”

Helen was with Harvey part of the time during the construction of the Madden Dam in Panama and Bull Shoals Dam. When she wasn’t with him on a dam site, Helen was in the Los Angeles area where they had homes in South Pasadena and then Alhambra. Helen had no children, but she had many friends and loved playing bridge with them in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Coronado.

Helen Ensminger Slocum, Tijuana, Mexico, January 26, 1944

Harvey had the utmost trust and respect for Helen. Throughout their marriage, Harvey split his income into equal parts, paying the bills from his share and giving the rest to Helen. Harvey told Herndon, “I haven’t the faintest idea whether she has invested that money wisely and is fairly well-to-do in her own name or has frittered away every penny of it—and I have never asked.”

Slocum also made sure his wife was adequately provided for in the event he didn’t live to see the completion of what turned out to be his grand finale—the Bhakra Dam in India.

Notes and References for Part Three

The Long Road to Recovery

Herndon, “Harvey Slocum Builds Our Mighty Dams,” 51
 “Shasta Dam,” Wikipedia, 2022 [Online]. Available:
“Workers Leave For Shasta Job,” The Spokesman Review, June 4, 1938

Friant Dam-Slocum’s Rebound Project

“First Bucket of Cement for Friant Will Pour Monday,” The Bakersfield Californian, July 27, 1940
Visalia Times-Delta, November 1, 1939
“CBI Underbid for Dam Job,” Spokane Chronicle, September 15, 1939
“Giant Equipment Goes Into Action on Friant Project,” The Fresno Bee, November 11, 1939
Spokane Chronicle, October 24, 1940
“No More Jobs Are Available At Friant Dam,” The Fresno Bee, November 30, 1939
 “Hiring at Friant by Notice Only,” Hanford Sentinel, December 23, 1939
“Used Machines at Coulee Dam Sold to Friant,” Spokane Chronicle, December 20, 1939
”Early Speed Is Maintained on Friant Dam Job,” The Fresno Bee, December 30, 1939
San Bernardino County Sun, February 9, 1940
“Work Speeded on Friant,” Los Angeles Times, April 14, 1940
“Engineers Study Progress of Work On Project Units,” The Fresno Bee, February 3, 1940 “Public Invited to Friant Dam To See Concrete Poured,” Tulare Advance-Register, July 27, 1940
Spokane Chronicle, September 23, 1940
The Fresno Bee, April 7, 1944
Letter from H. Stanley Bent to Col. Ed Fletcher, March 7, 1950, Ed Fletcher Papers, The Library UC San Diego

World War II and Guam Breakwater Project

Stuart Hawley Bartholomew Obituary, Chico Enterprise Record, July 24, 2013
Herndon, “Harvey Slocum Builds Our Mighty Dams,” 52

Bull Shoals Dam-Mountain Home Arkansas

Herndon, “Harvey Slocum Builds Our Mighty Dams,” 33, 52
Mary Ann Messick, “Founding Mother Recalls Early Lakeview,” Senior Focus, December 11, 2001
Herndon, “Harvey Slocum- Dynamic Dam Builder,” 30
“Mountain On the Move,” Star-Gazette (Elmira, New York), November 22, 1950
 “Bull Shoals Dam,” City of Bull Shoals, Arkansas Website [Online]; Available: The conveyor belt used to build Shasta Dam was 10 miles long.
Baxter Bulletin (Mountain Home, Arkansas), February 27, 1999
Herndon, draft of “Harvey Slocum-Dynamic Dam Builder,” UVA Herndon Papers

Chilling the Rock
“Mountain On the Move”

Safety First
Herndon, “Harvey Slocum Builds Our Mighty Dams,” 52
Daniel Person, “Forgotten sacrifices: Grand Coulee Dam memorial found in Colville,” The Spokesman Review, May 25, 2014

Relocation Versus Revival
“Bull Shoals Dam,” The Madison County Record, May 21, 1992, 27

Helen and Harvey-A Unique Relationship
“Mason City’s Society Busy,” Spokane Chronicle, November 27, 1935
Herndon, “Harvey Slocum Builds Our Mighty Dams,” 52
Harvey and Helen were friends with the author’s grandparents, Vern and Henrietta Case. Henrietta, Helen and Vera Cunningham were regular bridge partners.  Source:  Henrietta’s son, Stanford Ellis Case.

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Author Bios

Write Me Something Beautiful Authors - Casey and Jimmy Gauntt

Casey Gauntt

is a retired attorney and former senior executive of a major San Diego real estate company. He lives in Solana Beach, California, with his wife, Hilary. Casey grew up in Itasca, Illinois, graduated Lake Park High School in 1968, and received B.S., JD and MBA degrees from the University of Southern California.

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Jimmy Gauntt

was born and raised in Solana Beach and graduated from Torrey Pines High School in 2002.   A prestigious Trustee Scholar at the University of Southern California, he majored in English and Spanish. He authored six plays, five screenplays, and a multitude of poems and short stories. Beginning in 2010, the USC English Department annually bestows the Jimmy Gauntt Memorial Award—aka “The Jimmy”—to the top graduates in English.  Jimmy passed over to the other side in 2008 at age 24.

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