A Dam Good Time!

Trip Start May 09, 2009
Trip End May 27, 2010

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Where I stayed
Boulder Oaks RV Resort

Flag of United States  , Nevada
Thursday, January 7, 2010

Our next stop was to see the Hoover Dam (formerly known as Boulder Dam) in Boulder City, Nevada. Boulder City was created to house the crews that worked on the dam back in the 30s. Besides the Hoover dam, Boulder City's best asset is the nearby Lake Meade National Wildlife Refuge. Lake Meade was beautiful, despite the lowlake levels that have resulted from chronic drought conditions.  

Just in case you (like us) forgot what you might have learned as a kid about the Hoover Dam, here’s a brief history and description (from Wikipedia – there are more details to be found there at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoover_Dam):

• Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada. When completed in 1936, it was both the world's largest hydroelectric power generating station and the world's largest concrete structure. It was surpassed in both these respects by the Grand Coulee Dam in 1945. It is currently the world's 38th-largest hydroelectric generating station.

• This dam, located 30 mi (48 km) southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, is named after Herbert Hoover, who played an instrumental role in its construction, first as the Secretary of Commerce, and then later, as the President of the United States. Construction began in 1931, and was completed in 1936, a little more than two years ahead of schedule. The dam and the power plant are operated by the Bureau of Reclamation of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, Hoover Dam was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985.

• Lake Mead is the reservoir created by the dam, named after Elwood Mead, who oversaw the construction of the dam.

We felt lucky to see the dam during a relatively slow time for tourists.  There are 8-10 million tourists each year that visit - so many that they are building a new bridge to divert traffic from the current route that goes over the dam.  The bridge was still under construction when we were there but is supposed to be operational by this coming November.

Although we have seen the exterior of several other dams on our trip, we decided this time to go inside via the Power Plant tour that goes 530 feet deep into the walls of the Black Canyon and the heart of the power plant.  This half-hour tour gave us an appreciation for the magnitude of the operations and respect for the complexity of the project that was completed two years ahead of time more than 70 years ago! (What is the likelihood that would happen now??) The Visitor Center shows a film on the amazing river diversion and construction techniques; definitely worth seeing, as are other detailed exhibits in the Center.

I never thought a dam could be beautiful until seeing Hoover Dam. The original design was retooled to ensure that there was an aesthetric that befit the scope of the project.   Man-made beauty pervades the site – in the art deco turrets, clock towers (providing both Arizona and Nevada times since the states border in the middle of the Colorado River) and commemorative plazas. Inside the dam operations, Native American designs were incorporated in walkways, walls and ceilings. Dam beautiful!
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