The Hoover Dam was built between the vertical walls of the Black Canyon on the Colorado River that is the border between Arizona and Nevada and is located about 35 miles from Las Vegas Nevada.
Construction of the dam began in 1931 and was completed in 1936. The dam is named after America’s 31st president, Herbert Hoover, who was the president when the construction began.
The shape of the dam is a huge curving wall of concrete that is 726 feet tall, 660 feet thick at the base, 45 feet thick at the top and is 1,244 wide.
The dam has a multi-purpose mission which is to control flooding along the Colorado River by regulating the flow from the dam, save the water to use for the arid agricultural areas of the region and to generate hydroelectric energy. All three of these purposes were successfully achieved as can be seen in the photos below.
The Hoover Dam is the tallest arch dam constructed in the United States and created the largest artificial reservoir worldwide, Lake Mead. The curve towards the lake side transfers the waters forces into the hard rock walls of the canyon. The extreme arch can be seen in the photos below.
There are two statues near the visitor center that are dedicated to the construction of the dam.
The first statue is a bronze statue of a high scaler who had the job of hanging hundreds of feet in the air on the side of the canyon, knocking away loose rocks and setting dynamite charges. The statue was designed from a photo of Joe Kine, one of the last surviving high scalers who worked on the Hoover Dam project.
The second is of two 30 foot tall winged figures. The figures are part angel and part the symbol of the strength of man. The designer of the figures named them “Winged Figures of the Republic”. He stated that they represent the combination of physical and intellectual strength that was used to create the dam. He believed that the Hoover Dam was an engineering feat comparable to the construction of Egypt’s pyramids.
One of the most notable features for me is the white coloration of the canyon compared to the normally brown color of the canyon. The distinct line shows the high water line of Lake Mead which appears to be near the top of the dam.
In 2010, the Mike O’ Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge was completed. The bridge is 1,500 feet south of the Hoover Dam and is a much faster way of crossing the Colorado River than driving across the top of the dam. The bridge has a pedestrian walkway that give visitors a spectacular view of Hoover Dam from 900 feet above the Colorado River.
Many of the places that I visit in my travels have impressed me for different reasons. The Hoover Dam is impressive because of its enormous size and because of the vision that it took to complete a project like this in this type of location.
I always admire the people that have a “can do” attitude. I am sure there were many people who thought this project would not be successful but the people that had the vision, the people that engineered it and the people that built it all accomplished something that many people thought couldn’t be done.
Vision, planning and hard work will accomplish more than many people think is possible.