Visiting The Hoover Dam:
Hoover Dam History:
Fresh off the stock market crash of 1929, the U.S. Government attempted to push through the Great Depression by building the country up. One of the biggest projects was the Hoover Dam which required overcoming many challenges in a barren landscape to create one of the greatest engineering works in history. Rated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders, the Hoover Dam is truly a feat of American might. The main purpose of the Dam was not just to generate electricity, but also to create a large reservoir for the growing population of the American Southwest.
Just to start the special railroad lines, roads and power grids first needed to be built since there was absolutely nothing at the chosen location of the Black Canyon. The project requires 5,000 people a day working on it and as unemployment rose from the great depression, up to 20,000 people migrated here for their chance to work on the Dam. Conditions were tough and 112 workers died, but from the ground breaking in 1931 it only took them 4 years to build. Completed in 1935, the huge Dam was remarkably finished 2 years ahead of schedule. In order to build it so fast, but still be strong the builds used a new technique of buildings it tons of overlapping columns. They would pour the columns no more than 5 feet taller at a time, let each new one cure for days after a pour, and then fill in the gaps between the columns with grout.
The final product of all the labor was 726 feet tall (60 stories), 1,244 feet long, 660 feet thick at the base, and 45 feet thick at the top. The Dam also created the Lake Mead reservoir behind itself which took a 18 months to fill once they started letting water in. The reservoir not only serves as a site of recreation, but also provides water to over 8 million people for drinking, irrigation, and cattle. With the main purpose being electricity, the Dam now produces over 4.2 billion KWh of energy a year. The Dam Passage Ways and Power Plant are so impressive that guided tours have been going on here since 1937.
The Dam has had some controversy with its name as President Hoover’s name stuck although the original name was different, President Hoover wasn’t invited to the opening, and President Roosevelt never mentioned him in the opening speech. Most of this controversy is because Hoover was the President at the time of height of the Depression and it took a while for people to warm up to the name Hoover Dam as President Hoover was the one who started the project against all odds. Modern controversies stem around how the dam getting rid of natural flood patterns has affected and in some cases killed off certain native fish species. Either way you look at it, the Hoover Dam is a modern marvel you really need to visit if you are in the area.
Nevada Side Parking Garage: Open 8am-6:15pm, costs $7. Arizona Side Parking: Many free outdoor lots are available and while they are a longer walk to the dam, they are open longer and provide great views of the back of the dam and Lake Mead.
Crossing the Dam: You can drive over the dam 24 hours a day, but stopping or parking on the dam are not permitted. You will stop at a security check point before crossing for safety. Pedestrians are not allowed on the Dam after dark.
Visitor Center: Covering the history of the Dam, costs $8, and is open 9am-6pm. Guided Tours: 1 hour guided tours cost $30 and cover the Visitor Center, Power Plant, and Dam Passageways. 30 minute tours are just $11, but only cover the Visitor Center and Power Plant. Tour Hours: Vary by season but are typically 9:30am-4pm.
Hoover Dam National Park Website: Here