This past weekend, I took a trip down to Las Vegas for a concert and to visit a friend. I’ve lived in Nevada for nearly 14 years and this was my first time to Las Vegas. What is the first thing I wanted to do as soon as I landed? Go see Hoover Dam, of course!
The Hoover Dam is a declared Modern Civil Engineering Wonder and it is rightfully so!
We headed out Saturday morning to try and get there before the crowds. Unfortunately, there was major construction occurring on the roads going out to Boulder City, NV. It took us three times longer than it should have to get out there. Thankfully, when you haven’t seen one of your best friends in 2.5 years, there is plenty to chat about.
We made our way towards the dam, meandering through Boulder City. Boulder City is a town that was built in 1931 specifically for housing the, approximately 5000, workers building the dam. It now has a little over 15,000 residents and is quaintly situated on the edge of Lake Mead.
After going through a brief security point, we made our way over the dam and then parked on the Arizona side. There are a few sections of parking. If you skip the first “Pay to Park” lot, there is a free parking lot right above it. It was hot, at least for me, and I definitely recommend water and sunscreen. We parked in the lot and then walked over to the start of the dam. We passed over the spillway which hasn’t seen water since 1983!
Walking over the dam was breathtaking. To think of what it took to build this structure in the 1930’s is just mind-boggling. We took our time walking across and seeing all that there was took take in. On the Nevada side of the dam is where the visitor center and memorial statues can be found. There is a guided that will take you down and inside the power plant of the dam. We didn’t take the tour because of lack of time, but next time I plan on doing it. As time went on, the crowds began to grow and we decided to return another time. I highly recommend getting there first thing in the morning to make the most of your experience.
Here are some fun facts about the Hoover Dam from the Bureau of Reclamation:
HOOVER DAM FACTOIDS FOR KIDS
DID YOU KNOW THAT . . . . ?
- Hoover Dam is 726 ft. tall. That is 171 ft. taller than the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. and twice as tall as the Luxor Casino (338 ft.) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- At its base, Hoover Dam is as thick (660 ft.) as two footballs fields measured end-to-end.
- There is enough concrete in Hoover Dam (4 1/2 million cubic yards) to build a 2 lane road from Seattle, Washington to Miami, Florida or a 4 ft. wide sidewalk around the Earth at the Equator.
- During peak electricity periods, enough water runs through the generators to fill 15 average sized swimming pools (20,000 gallons each) in 1 second.
- Each of the 30 ft. wide penstocks (water pipes) can carry enough water to fill 900 bath tubs (100 gallons each) in 1 second, or 960,000 (12 oz.) cans of drink in 1 second.
- If you drink water from the tap at Disneyland, Anaheim or Sea World in San Diego — that water is coming from the Colorado River and Lake Mead, 300 miles away.
- When operating at full power, the 17 generators can supply all the electricity needed by a city of 750,000 people.
- Between 1931 and 1936 when the dam was built, 96 men were killed in industrial accidents. None were buried in the concrete.
- The mascot dog and favorite pet of all the construction workers during the building of the dam was buried at Hoover Dam. The grave is near the Hoover Dam Tour Center and can be visited.
- More than 8.5 million pounds of dynamite was used to blast the foundation for the dam and 8 miles of tunnels through the canyon walls.
Does the Hoover Dam fascinate you? Tell me your favorite fact! For all of you students out there, the Hoover Dam is a prime example of what a career in Civil Engineering can look like. It is challenging, exciting, and leads to the design and construction of incredible monuments!