Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hoover Dam, Nevada


Hoover Dam was a massive undertaking back in the 1930s. The areas south of the Nevada had been flooded extensively by the Colorado River and the water needed to be harnessed. A group of companies got together and put in a bid to construct a dam somewhere in the southern part of Nevada. They scouted the area and found what they thought was a perfect place.
They constructed a dam that is 45' wide on the top, 1244' across the canyon and 726' high. The base is 660' wide and the structure is the tallest dam in the western hemisphere. It is estimated that it weighs 6.6 million tons. It's so large, it's difficult to get it all into one photograph when you're on the dam property. When it was completed, it created the reservoir known today as Lake Mead.
As if this was not enough, there were 4 intake structures built to bring water in from the bottom of the lake, two of which are shown above. These towers are 395' tall. Multiple miles of tunnels 50' in diameter were built as well as giant spillway, that will divert the water in case of floods. The last time the spillway was used was during a flood in the 1980s. Power from the generators run by this water is sent all over the southwest, including Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The dam employed thousands of workers during the years of construction, many of them had traveled from the east looking for jobs.  The construction was during the depression, and the pay rates were anywhere from 50 cents to 87 cents per hour, depending on the job.  Since they worked 24 hour a day, the job was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.  Try getting that performance today!
Since the Colorado River divides Nevada and California from Arizona, the state border is in the middle of the river, more or less. There are clocks on two of the intake towers, one for Nevada time and the other for Arizona time.


Today, there are memorials near the visitor center for the men who lost their lives during the construction, about 96 of them, according to one sign in the museum. Apparently, there were some rumors about some being buried in the massive concrete structure, but the sign also states that it didn't happen.
There are two winged statues on each side of a flagpole that flies an American flag at a height of 142'. These statues are each 30' tall and contain 4 tons of bronze. Bronze was also used for elevator doors, memorial placques, state placques and other items around the plaza.
When I was towing my 5th wheel to Lake Mead about a week ago, there were some bridges going over the canyons. Because it was a bit windy that day, there were notices posted that all high profile vehicles had to use the left lane. They are very nice four lane bridges with dividers and although I knew it must be up high, I couldn't see the bottom of the canyon I was passing over. When I finally saw the bridge from the dam, I was glad that I had not known how very high it really was! At least it looks very sturdy, I will remind myself of that when I go back over it.

That was my first visit to the Hoover Dam, stay tuned for the next visit as well as a walk along that bridge in the photo above.

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