Oddly Enough: December 2018

Oddly-Enough-LOGO-copyBy Russell Miller

Hoover Dam (formerly Boulder Dam) rises a majestic 726 feet high and is 660 feet thick at its base. It weighs an estimated 6.6 million tons. It backs up Lake Mead, which is 590 feet deep at its deepest point. When originally filled, the sheer weight of the lake water caused over 600 earthquakes. It was a monumental Great Depression undertaking from 1931-1936. Many people died during this ambitious project. The first official death associated with this dam was J. G. Tierney, an employee of the Bureau of Reclamation, who was scouting for a good geological location for the dam. He fell from a barge and drowned on Dec. 20, 1922.

Oddly Enough … The last person to die on this engineering wonder fell from one of the intake towers to his death. He also died on Dec. 20, thirteen years later. His name was Patrick Tierney – J. G. Tierney’s son!

Bonus Oddly … Although well over 100 people died as a result of working on this structure, no one is buried in the concrete. Each pour of cement only measured a few inches thick, making it virtually impossible for anyone to be entombed. Most deaths occurred from extreme heat and poor ventilation in the overflow shafts.


This small carnivorous cave beetle (unique to the cave systems of Slovenia) was discovered in 1933 by a German entomologist named Oscar Scheibel. Because Adolf Hitler had just become Chancellor of Germany, Scheibel named this discovery after him: Anophthalmus Hitleri, literally meaning “eyeless” or “blind” Hitler. The Fuhrer, in gratitude, sent Scheibel a thank-you letter.

Oddly Enough …This sightless cave dweller, purely as a result of its name, has become an object of interest to Hitler memorabilia collectors. Some specimens have been sold for over 1,000 euros, which has lead to specimen theft from the Zoological State Collection in Munich and relentless hunting of the bug in Slovenian caves. The demand may drive this animal to extinction.


Russell Miller is an illustrator, cartoonist, writer, bagpiper, motorcycle enthusiast, and former reference librarian. Currently, he illustrates books for Cody Lundin and Bart King.

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