Hoover Dam is a unique hydraulic structure in the United States. 221 meters (or 725 feet) high arched concrete dam was constructed in the lower part of Colorado River, on the border between the U.S. states of Nevada and Arizona.
In this publication, we will tell you why the Hoover Dam is so famous, why it is considered to be the most vital structure in the Western region of America.
We were surprised to find out that that the legendary Hoover Dam was on the way from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon – just 48 km (or 30 miles) southeast of Las Vegas. And it would be unforgivable not to go there. You can read our review of Las Vegas in the previous publication.
There is a plenty of daily excursions from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. Excursions by car, by bus, even by helicopter. We traveled by rental car on our own. We observed unusual landscapes. Sometimes it even seemed to be like we are on another planet.
And here is the massive Hoover Dam! It has its exciting, sometimes even dangerous history.
Before constructing the dam Colorado River had been flooding the parcels of farmland, which were downriver – especially when the snow from surrounding Rocky mountains melted.
The designers of the dam hoped that its construction would help to smooth out the river level. In addition, the reservoir was expected to provide a boost to irrigated agriculture and water supply to Los Angeles and other areas of Southern California.
The dam was named Hoover Dam for 31st President of the USA – Herbert Hoover. He played a significant role in the dam construction. The building was started in 1931 and was finished in 1935. In 1936 the dam was already put into operation.
As a result the dam is:
221-meter- (or 725-feet-) high
379-meter (or 1 243-feet-) long
200-meter (or 656-feet-) wide at the foundation, 15-meter (or 50-feet) wide in the upper part of the dam.
The building of Hoover Dam was very dangerous – 96 persons died during the construction. The memorial obelisk was set up to honor the dead builders of the dam.
The first electricity on the dam was produced by the generators of the station on the 26th of September 1936. 12th of September 1939 after the launch of 9 hydrounits the electric power station reached 705 megawatt energy and became the most powerful hydroelectric power station in the world. Today the electricity on the station is produced by the 17 generators with maximum 2080 megawatt energy.
An architect from Los Angeles Gordon Kaufmann was invited to create the project of the dam. Kaufmann applied an elegant Art Deco style to the entire project. The upper part of the dam was decorated by the towers. The dam is protected against over-topping by two spillways. Two clocks are set up on the spillways: the first clock shows the time in Nevada state and the second one – in Arizona state. Both states are in different time zones, but since Arizona does not observe daylight saving time, the clocks display the same time for more than half a year.
This place gives you shivers! It looks really stunning! The dam is extremely high!
The road and pedestrian sidewalks were built on the dam. It is definitely worth walking along the sidewalks to feel the mightiness of this grandiose place.
In the middle of the dam you can listen to a guided tour in English. Audio guides are installed here.
The dam offers stunning views: an industrial landscape (a horseshoe-shaped base of the dam with an electrical installation and its numerous lines and a photogenic bridge over the Colorado River – on one side of the dam,
and natural landscape (the valley of the largest reservoir in America, amazing artificial Lake Mead) – on the other side of the dam.
There is an exhibition centre on the Nevada state side. This centre is dedicated to the history of building and fuctioning of the Hoover Dam.
It is possible to buy something memorible from this lenegedary place in the souvenir store, which is a little bit farther from the exhibition centre, and to have a snack in the cafe nearby the souvenir store.
“A modern civil engineering wonder of the United States. One of seven selected by the American Society of Civil Engineers, 1955”.
Hoover Dam impressed us so much! Here we realized how massive and legendary this dam is! This place is really worth visiting on the way to Grand Canyon or even during the stay in Las Vegas.
After a stop near the Hoover Dam we moved to the stunning Grand Canyon. We will tell you about it in our next publication.
Coming back to the Hoover Dam, we will share with you the top of the most exciting facts about this legendary dam.
- The building of this grandiose construction required the whole army of workers. Just 12 km (7,5 miles) from the dam Bolder City settlement was built to accommodate 5251 workers.
- Hoover Dam construction was the first, where the workers used hardhats.
- Hoover Dam is 600 000 tons of concrete. It is the most massive artificial construction on the planet.
- Electricity station on the dam is still one of the most powerful stations in USA. The major part of produced energy goes to Nevada state. In the period from 1939 till 1949 this station considered to be the largest in the world.
- Hoover Dam is on the boarder between two states: Nevada and Arizona, which are in two different time zones. There are two clocks on the spillway towers: the first clock – on the tower from Nevada side, which shows North American Pacific time and the second clock – on the tower from Arizona side, which shows the time in the mountainous part.
- A huge budget was spent for the bulding of Hoover Dam – about $49 millions (it is about $729 millions for today cost).
- Hoover Dam can operate for 2 years without any service – until the canals will be overgrown with the underwater plants.
Author (c): Iryna Melnyk
Photos (c): Nick Melnyk