Saturday, August 27, 2011

"The Last Dam Tour is at 4pm!"

How many times can you listen to that without laughing?  Oh, those crazy Hoover Dam folks, they use every opportunity to exploit that word and pretty soon everyone IS laughing.

As you can guess, we visited this awesome testament to engineering and construction ingenuity on Wednesday.  About a 45 minute drive from "the strip" and well worth the drive.

Along the way you will see a lovely overview of Lake Mead, the lake that was formed by Hoover Dam.  It was a bit of a hazy day, but the view was nonetheless beautiful.

The last 15 minutes of the drive to Hoover Dam is full of twists and turns and the final turn brings you to the first view of the dam.

It is spectacular to see for the first time. 
 And this wasn't my first time to see it, but it was my first time to tour it.

Construction of the Hoover Dam began in 1931 and was completed two years ahead of schedule in 1935. It was built to control the flooding of the Colorado river that would occur during the spring thaws and preserve that water to last throughout the year.  Thus putting an end to the destructive drought/flood cycle that was destroying crops and communities.

Concrete was poured into large rectangular molds 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 3 years.  All digging equipment was steam operated and the manpower was staggerng.

You can see by the above photo that every man on the job was necessary and the equipment they used was primitive by today's standards.  Just take a look a this "safety belt" the jackhammer operators wore while clinging to the rocky wall.

By elevator our tour took us 54 stories below the surface and as you can see by these tunnels, this was not a tour for anyone with claustrophobia.

At the end of these tunnels we were shown the heart of Hoover Dam.  The turbines that use the water to generate electricity to a large part of the region.

This is one government project that has paid for itself over the years and has brought prosperity to parts of Nevada and California that previously did not have proper irrigation and electricity. 

These beautiful terrazo floors were installed in the observation area in 1935 and are a testament to the durability of that type of flooring as any good Floridian can tell you.  Tens of millions of feet have walked across this floor, yet it looks as good as it probably did 76 years ago.

Back up on top of the dam we were able to take in the beautiful view of the bridge that spans the gap above the dam.

And the interesting cantilevered towers that carry the power lines along the gorge.

Next stop was for lunch in the small burg of Boulder City, the original housing settlement for the thousands of workers who completed this tremendous feat and their families.  Today Boulder city is a quaint small town with at least one awesome family-run restaurant.

The Coffee Cup Cafe in Boulder City.

The owners are Big Bob Seger fans which appealed to Mr. Tennis. Lots of water-skiing memorabilia on the inside as nearby Lake Mead is one of the water-ski capitals in the U.S.

And yes, it was hot!


The Thuglets said...

Wowie....the Hoover Dam is spectacular! Thanks for sharing the trip and the photos.

Have a good weekend!

Extra Big Nose Pokes
The Thugletsx

Razmataz said...

I saw a BPS show on the building of the dam and it was incredibly interesting. A lot of men dies during the construction. I am always amazed at how amazing humans are in designing and building such things.

I went to Boulder City with Suzan (Old Grey Mare Blog) this spring and I think we ate at that restaurant! It's a nice change from the cling of Vegas.

Mr. Connor said...

What a great adventure anc a wonderful trip. Loved the pictures. I saw the same PBS / Discovery show that Razmataz saw and I liked this much better.

Sue said...

Lucky the took you "down below" since it has to be a lot cooler there!! The Hoover Dam in August. I can only imagine how hot it was! Enjoyed reading about it though, thanks.

Take care, Sue

Orlando Grandma said...

Your tour was more informative that the one I took when we lived in Vegas. We never did go down bellow. We did camp and boated in Lake Mead, I do not know if Mr. Tennis remembers any of that since He was quite young. Great pictures.

Chatty Crone said...

I am so glad you got to see this - I thought it was a marvelous site to see and learn about.

Janie Fox said...

I didn't get to go to Hoover Dam. Bummer. I looooove Bob Seger. Have fun my friend!

Doris Sturm said...

I remember going to that Dam Tour myself and I found it very just can't drive by and not go...scary how they built it!