High good, low bad: Mead in June 2010

'Colossus' author Michael Hiltzik speculates that Los Angeles Times proprietor Harry Chandler was behind the Hoover administration's hiring of architect Gordon B. Kaufmann to streamline and simplify plans for Boulder (eventually Hoover) Dam. "Early in 1931, Kaufmann began hacking away at Reclamation's architectural scheme (above)," writes Hiltizk, "which was burdened with such neoclassical gingerbread as pediments, elaborate balustrades on the dam crest, and columns capped with bronze eagles." Click on the image to be taken to the Reclamation page about Kaufmann, who also collaborated with the bureau on Parker and Shasta dams.

There is a telling quirk to most US maps of the Colorado River: They stop at the Mexican border. The river’s once-mighty delta and the Sea of Cortez rarely figure.

Save a few forays south, this delineation holds true in the recently published book “Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century by Michael