Monday, February 20, 2012

Hoover Dam Expedition

Although I have flown over Hoover Dam countless times when I was jetting back and forth on commercial flights going out west, and despite the fact that it is only 30 miles from Las Vegas, my visit to Hoover Dam earlier this month was the first time I had ever had the opportunity to go tour the location.

I have toured dams in the Ozarks before, where a tour for a visitor seems to be an "afterthought", so I was a little surprised about just how big of a visitor attraction the Hoover Dam was! The broad promenade down to the Visitor's Center was lined with lovely palm trees, sculptures, and scenic overlooks.

On the entry promenade, one will first notice these sculptures, that go by the name "Winged Figures of the Republic", and are the work of sculptor Oskar J.W. Hansen. He said these 30 feet tall statues were designed to represent "the eternal vigilance which is the price of liberty." There is also sculpture embedded in the floor beneath the statues, which represent the alignment of the planets on the day that President Herbert Hoover dedicated the dam in 1935.

As you can see from the shiny appearance of the toes of this winged figure, there have been thousands of visitors who have given them a swipe of the hand!

The dam is described as having an art deco and modernism flare about it, which would be in keeping with its being built during the Great Depression. These four intake towers---two on the Nevada side and two on the Arizona size, are both functional and pleasing to the eye.

One of the towers of the dam lists the time of day in Nevada.

Just a few feet away, the clock on the tower on the Arizona side, shows a time that is an hour earlier. This photo is also a reminder to mention that if you find yourself in Las Vegas without a car, yet you want to tour attractions outside Las Vegas, you can use Pink Jeep Tours ( ). One of the Pink Jeep Tour vehicles is pictured crossing the dam in this photograph. That is the vehicle our group used when driving around the dam and Boulder City, and I found it to be extremely comfortable. It has an excellent sound system, so it is very easy to understand your tour guide, who is driving the vehicle; plus, the windows were large and clean! Another reason you might need Pink Jeep Tours is that there are numerous restrictions to what type of vehicles are allowed to drive across Hoover Dam. So I would recommend a visit to the dam's website to read about the restrictions, BEFORE you go!

These girls are posing for a photo in front of the plaque on top of the dam, that serves as the "imaginary line" between Nevada and Arizona.

The reddish color of the visitor facilities blends nicely with the natural stone colors of the canyon walls that surround it.

One reason this canyon was chosen for the site of the dam was because of the steepness of the canyon walls. This photo of one of the escalators leading down to the Visitor's Center gives you an idea of just how very steep they are!

These steps leading from the parking garage will get you about a third of the way down to where you get to the escalators in the previous photos. Are you getting the picture that it is a LONG WAY from the top to the bottom???

Once you are inside the dam with your tour group, the guide has a microphone, and adequate visual aids to give you an overview of what you are about to see, plus give anyone who has a problem with claustrophobia to exit the tour!

When you get to the area where the turbines are that actually work to produce the hydroelectric power, you are a little overwhelmed by just how gigantic they are. Note the truck in the foreground of the photo for size relativity.

This gallery "cat walk" above the transformers was equipped with speakers (shown as the boxes suspended in front of the visitors), which made it easy to hear what our tour guide was saying, even though we were very spread out.

Photography was allowed in this area, which surprised me a bit, since the dam tours I took in the Ozarks did not allow cameras inside the dam.

There is an observation deck connected with the Visitor Center, and there was a steady stream of people wanting to have their photo taken on top of the dam, and in front of the bypass bridge. Our group persuaded some stranger to snap this photo of us.

Part of the area that receives visitors has been refurbished within the last few years, but the art deco design has been maintained in the remodeling work.

This photo shows the outdoor area of the food concession at the dam, and has a great view of Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, the new bypass bridge, the Colorado River, and the Arizona shoreline.

This sculpture, called "The Highscaler" is named after a category of workers who built the dam. It is placed beside the cafe, of the same name.

When I was touring Hoover Dam, the guide seemed to include the word "power" in every other sentence----so much so, that I started humming in my mind a hymn I had learned in childhood called "Power in the blood". When I got home, I looked up the word power in my Bible concordance, and found that Exodus 9:16 says "But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my POWER and, that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." In a similar way, a very dedicated group of workers raised up a dam, created to supply power to an arid land, and ----thanks to the tours at Hoover Dam---people from all over the earth are able to visit it, and learn how it works! However, even if you cannot visit in person, there is a website you can go to that will give you more details and facts about this engineering marvel, than you could digest in a lifetime. Check it out at . You can also learn about other remarkable places to visit in this area by clicking on So get out there, and have yourself a good dam visit! Miles of smiles! Tricia

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