HOOVER DAM, A Civil Engineering Marvel

Gem & Lita at the Hoover Dam powerplant

One of the world’s one hundred most important places is the Hoover Dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River bordering between the US states of Nevada and Arizona. A concrete arch-gravity dam, the monumental Hoover Dam was built over a five-year period between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression as the end-product of massive effort involving thousand of workers and costing 112 lives. Also called the Boulder Dam, it was named after Herbert Hoover, America’s 31st President from 1929 to 1933, who strongly supported the construction of a high concrete dam on the Colorado River. Now, it meets the domestic water needs of more than 20 million people of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, and other southwestern cities, towns and Indian communities in the states of Arizona, Nevada and California.

From top to bottom the main wall of the dam stands more than 70 stories high, all concrete; Hoover Dam is “concrete, and without concrete, the dam could not have been built”. Hoover Dam’s reservoir is Lake Mead, America’s largest man-made water reservoir.

The dam has been rated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders. Also, a National Historic Landmark, the Hoover Dam was named in 1999 the number five construction achievement of the 20th century. Artist and writer Julian Rhinehart of Boulder City, NV, observed, “The dam is not only an engineering wonder. It also is a work of art.”

Not to be missed on your dam visit is the iconic sculptures on the Nevada end of the Hoover Dam, the Winged Figures of the Republic, bronze statues ripped with muscles, raising their arms to extended wings with their toes rubbed smooth and burnished to soft gold by million of countless hands looking for good luck.

Hoover Dam is home to the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, once the tallest concrete arch bridge in the world, standing at 880 feet and 1,905 feet across. And it is walkable! Also called the Hoover Dam Bypass, replacing US Route 93, it opened in 2010.

This man-made wonder has also provided movie locations and settings for Hollywood film makers and producers through the years. In 2015, the American disaster film, San Andreas, shows Hoover Dam crumbles, collapses as the California notorious San Andreas fault triggers a devastating magnitude 9 earthquake. The dam has appeared in dozen of movies including Ocean Eleven, Viva Las Vegas, Diamonds Are Forever, Superman, and Transformers.

A world-renowned structure, Hoover Dam is one of Nevada’s most popular tourist attractions luring million of visitors from across the nation and around the world. Touring the dam and its powerplant is quite an educational experience. The visitor centre features audiovisual and theatre presentations. On top of the visitor centre is an overlook providing view of the dam, Lake Mead and Black Canyon.

A day trip from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam to add some historical variety to your casino time in the Silver State takes only about 45 minutes to negotiate the 37 miles (60 kms.) depending on the weather condition and traffic.

The Hoover Dam