Two little girls stare out from the photograph with blank expressions, their hair cut in the same sandy bob.
They are surrounded by family, 16 people in all, posed casually in the yawning mouth of a steel pipe three stories tall.
The image, from the construction of Hoover Dam, has become iconic in the 76 years since it was taken. It has been published in books and featured in documentaries. It has come to symbolize a specific time in a specific place that might never have existed if the country weren't falling apart in the Great Depression.
But the little girls, sisters, didn't know anything about that. Today, what they recall about the photograph is the weather.
"I remember how cold I was," says Ila Clements-Davey, now 79, as she studies her 4-year-old face.
Laura Kelly Smith, now 81, is a few days shy of her sixth birthday in the photograph. She can still feel the icy wind and the fit of her dark green sweater, which looks black in the exposure.
The picture was taken on Christmas Day 1934 at the Babcock & Wilcox pipe yard, not far from the present day security checkpoint on the Nevada side of the dam.
It's a once-in-a-lifetime image, because work on the dam rarely stopped long enough to allow for a family portrait such as this. And even if it had, few other families could have posed in this particular piece of pipe.
As soon as Christmas was over, the section was wheeled down to the construction site, lowered into the canyon and fitted into place, Clements-Davey says. "It's down there somewhere with water running through it."
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Thomas Godbey stands at the center of the frame, wearing a dark coat and a squint beneath a shock of wavy hair. He stoops slightly to hold Ila's arms, but he still looks like he might be the tallest person in the picture.
Tom Godbey was born in St. Joseph, Mo., in 1899. He worked mostly as a farmer until 1923, when he moved to the mountain town of Silverton, Colo., to work in the mines.
He eventually became a city marshal. Then mines closed and the work dried up, so he moved the family to Oatman, Ariz., where he got on with a gold operation.
Conditions at the mine were terrible, and Tom began to come home with burns on his shoulders from acid that was leaching down into the tunnels.
Smith says her father tried to organize the workers, but his push for safety improvements got him fired instead.
That's when the Godbeys joined the rising tide of humanity washing into Southern Nevada in search of work with what soon would become the largest construction project in American history.
Smith says her grandparents drove from Silverton to Oatman and loaded the family in their Packard touring car: four adults, four children and a roof "piled high" with everything they owned.
They arrived at the burgeoning work site on June 16, 1931, after a drive that took them through Needles, Calif., then the closest place to cross the Colorado River.
Laura was 2½ years old. Ila was 6 months old. Black Canyon was a blast furnace.
Erma Godbey is simple to spot in the picture. She is the only person whose face is turned away from the lens.
She is looking at a woman and a baby directly to her right. The woman is Lina Fahrion, Erma's mother. The baby is Alice, Erma's youngest child, who was one of the first people born in Boulder City.
Erma looks like she might be smiling.
Just three years earlier, as Fahrion dropped her daughter's family near the construction site for Hoover Dam, she told Erma she feared she might never see them alive again.
Clements-Davey says her grandmother was horrified by conditions at the bottom of Black Canyon, which seemed even more desperate and squalid than what she faced as a child crossing the country by covered wagon.
She was not wrong.
There was no Boulder City then, so the Godbeys settled in one of the only places they could: a ramshackle tent city known as Ragtown, just up the canyon from the construction site.
For the first few days, they sheltered in the shade of wool blankets they strung up in the triple-digit heat. Their first real tent came from a man whose wife died in the canyon.
Ragtown residents had to walk to the Colorado River, a quarter of a mile away, to take baths or wash their clothes. The drinking water they hauled back to camp had to sit for awhile to allow the silt to settle to the bottom.
Ila learned to swim before her first birthday after she fell into the river.
Tom quickly found work building roads to the dam site using what Clements-Davey calls "the original bulldozer," a team of mules hooked up to a blade.
He held a number of jobs after that, from laying down the electrical lines to operating the water and sewer plants for America's newest city, the emerging government town of Boulder City. In the process, he helped bring two important amenities to the community: lighted ball fields and, later, a cemetery.
Tom would never be directly involved in construction of the dam, but he would one day help install the "next to last generator" in the power plant at the base of the finished dam, Smith says.
The nights in Ragtown were so hot it was hard to sleep. The days were almost unbearable.
For two hours every afternoon, Erma would order her four children to lie down and rest while she covered each of them with a dish towel soaked in river water.
"That was our air conditioners," Smith says.
Erma, meanwhile, summoned the strength to cook over a campfire and mix buckets of lemonade for her kids and other children in the camp.
"I don't know how my mother ever made it, with all she had to do," Smith says.
Some mothers didn't make it.
After three women died from the heat in two months, Erma persuaded Tom to move the family out of Ragtown and into a camp in Las Vegas, just north of where the Spaghetti Bowl now stands.
The conditions there were much better, but living so far from the dam site and the federal reservation surrounding it made things more difficult on Tom.
Once, when he was between jobs, he used the label from a Campho-Phenique bottle to make a fake pass that got him through the gate so he could look for more work.
A BRAND-NEW CITY
Smith fills in more details lost to black-and-white film.
She says the young version of her in the picture wears long stockings and a school dress under the dark green sweater, which was knitted by her aunt and given to her as a Christmas gift earlier that morning.
The dress is light blue, the stockings uncomfortable.
"Mother was always dressing me in light blue," Smith says.
The boys standing next to her are her brothers, Jim and Tom.
In early 1932, the Godbey family moved again, this time to a camp behind a railroad building in Boulder City.
A few months later, Smith says, her father received the first permit to lease property and build a private home in the community.
Until then, the homes and dormitories in Boulder City were set aside for federal officials or the employees and major subcontractors of Six Companies, the consortium of construction firms contracted to build Hoover Dam.
The permit requirements were simple: Privately built homes had to have electricity and indoor plumbing and cost at least $250 to build.
"You couldn't just do it all (with material) from the dump," Smith says.
And there was one other restriction: The house had to be built off the ground instead of anchored to a permanent foundation so it could be easily removed once the dam was finished and the project was over.
Boulder City was never meant to be a permanent settlement.
The Godbeys moved into their new home on Avenue L in the spring of 1932. Though small and unfinished, it was a huge improvement over the tents they lived in during their first nine months in Nevada.
Once the family was settled, a succession of aunts and uncles followed with dreams of jobs and homes of their own.
"When we moved here, there was no kind of work anyplace (in the country), so whoever had a roof over their heads is where everyone ended up," Smith says.
The new city came with all the usual institutional divisions -- class, religion, economic background -- as well as a few new ones. If you didn't work for the government, Six Companies or one of its main subcontractors, for example, your family couldn't shop in the company store or see a doctor at the city's only hospital.
But many of Boulder City's first residents were united by the deeper bonds of shared hardship and history.
A lot of the men who came to work on the dam also fought in the First World War. And everyone in town already was a veteran of the Great Depression. A few of the Godbeys' neighbors arrived, red-eyed and coughing, straight from the Dust Bowl.
As Clements-Davey puts it, "Virtually everybody was here because their livelihoods were destroyed where they were."
In that way, Boulder City was born with a built-in sense of community, one that extended to the row of private homes that began to spring up around the Godbeys' place on Avenue L.
"Everyone swapped tools. Everybody helped everybody else," Clements-Davey says.
And Erma Godbey kept track of it all with a detailed inventory of every tool in the neighborhood. Her list included who each tool belonged to, who was borrowing it and for how long.
Of their now-famous family portrait, Clements-Davey remembers this part quite clearly: Climbing up into that pipe section was no easy trick.
"It was way off the ground," she says, "and the women were wearing heels."
The pipe section was 12 feet long and 30 feet in diameter. It was made from steel plates almost 3 inches thick and so heavy it took one railroad car to ship just two of them from the mill to the fabricating plant.
As massive as they were, it took hundreds of the pipe sections to complete the nearly one mile of penstocks that carry water through the dam.
This was no isolated adventure for the Godbeys. Smith says they always found time for family outings.
They dressed up and drove to Las Vegas to attend the first Helldorado Days in 1934, and they made regular trips to Black Canyon to check on progress at the dam.
"Every different change our parents would take us down there so we'd know what was happening," Smith says. "Everyone knew this was historical. It was the biggest construction project in the history of the world."
Clements-Davey remembers eating picnic lunches and fishing from the end of the dam's diversion tunnels.
Smith says she went night fishing with her father in one of those tunnels and, at the age of 4, walked across a swinging catwalk bridge that workers used to cross Black Canyon, hundreds of feet above the river.
Then, on Sept. 30, 1935, the Godbeys took what may have been their most memorable outing. They put on their Sunday best and went out to watch President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicate the finished dam.
The baby in the picture is like most of us. Alice never knew the world before there was a Hoover Dam.
Construction was well under way in Black Canyon when she was born in the house on Avenue L on Dec. 20, 1933.
She was too young to remember being photographed in the penstock section or hearing FDR speak at the dedication ceremony the following year. Any family outings to Black Canyon she could recall involved a dam that was already done.
Alice lived almost her entire life in Boulder City. Her time as a college student in Reno marked her longest absence from the community.
She got married and raised a son and two daughters there. She worked as a substitute teacher. She coached a local swim team and loved sports. She was active in the Democratic Party, just like her father.
Then, on Feb. 17, 1979, less than two years after her husband killed himself, 45-year-old Alice Mae Godbey Koontz took one last drive to Hoover Dam. And when she got there, she threw herself over the side.
The family won't talk about her death.
Alice was buried in the cemetery her father helped build, in a grave shaded by a pine tree and surrounded by other Godbey family plots.
The inscription on her headstone reads: "You are forever in our hearts."
HOME FOR GOOD
The picture in the pipe was Uncle Emmett's idea. He's not in the photograph because he's the one taking it.
Smith says the family originally planned to pose in front of the house on Avenue L, but Emmett Godbey had a better backdrop in mind.
"I remember that before we did it, he took me around to see all the different sizes of pipe" in the yard, Smith says.
Boulder City began to empty out as the dam neared completion, but the Godbeys and other families never left.
"It was such a wonderful place to live. It was just a wonderful family town, Smith says. "They thought they were going to move all the houses out, but there were people who wanted to buy them. There were people who wanted to stay."
Others simply could not afford to. As soon as the dam was finished and the construction companies moved on, many workers had little choice but to follow.
Then came World War II, which brought a new wave of heavy industry to Boulder City and led to the creation of Henderson, the region's second new city in as many decades.
Smith says her father found work on other high-profile projects after the dam was done, including the construction of Davis Dam, downstream from Hoover, Henderson's Basic Magnesium plant, and the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas.
He also worked at the Nevada Test Site during the days of nuclear testing, served five terms in the Nevada Assembly during the 1950s and '60s, and involved himself in a variety of local causes and organizations.
Erma was likewise active in the community, and in the American Legion in particular.
The four oldest Godbey children grew up, moved away, and started families of their own.
Smith and Clements-Davey eventually found their way back to Boulder City, the once-temporary town that has now been their home for most of their lives.
Smith lives on Avenue L, across the street from the house where she grew up. Clements-Davey lives less than a mile away, and the sisters see each other often.
They also see their famous family photograph. It's pretty hard to miss, actually.
In 2004, the picture was made into a mural in downtown Boulder City, where it covers the outside wall of a business: 16 members of the Godbey family, staring out at Nevada Way from their Depression-era portal.
"It was a bleak area to grow up in," Smith says as she studies those faces from the past, "but I cannot say my childhood was anything but a happy one."
Contact reporter Henry Brean at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0350.