The Hoover Dam - A Monument to Human Determination
The Hoover Dam is like no other. Spanning the walls of formidable Black Canyon east of Vegas, the dam stands as a monument to human determination in the face of extreme weather and mind-boggling logistical requirements.
Hoover Dam was built in the years of the Great depression, a time when thousands of people jumped at the chance to be part of a public work's project that would bring in some money and put food on the table. These laborers were willing to work long, hard hours in an isolated landscape under an unrepentantly hot sun.
The federal government built the town of Boulder City, NV, to accommodate the workers. It was on it's way to becoming a wonderful place until the stock market crashed in 1928. Plans had to be scaled back to the point where the destitute town became known as Rag Town. Indeed, living conditions across the country were bad, but Rag Town's were especially appalling. Today, Boulder City is thriving and is one of only two towns in the state of Nevada that prohibits gambling.
Diverting the Colorado River
Logic says you can't build a dam in the middle of a fast-moving river. The solution? Move the Colorado River, which was achieved by routing it through man-made tunnels and into cofferdams. This was no small feat. Thousands of workers toiled on the four tunnels, removing cubic ton after cubic of rock, soil and river silt. The tunnels and cofferdams were completed before the spring floods of 1933.
Buckets of Concrete
Now the actual construction of Hoover Dam could begin. More than 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete were used to build the dam's impound walls. The concrete was mixed outside the building area, poured into giant buckets and transported to the dam site by rail cards. When construction was in full swing, a bucket arrived every 78 seconds!
It was backbreaking work. Rockslides were a regular event, tumbling from the mountain sides and pummeling the workers below. Men were injured daily, but, despite the risk, they forged on. This elemental battle would go on for five years. By the time the dam was completed, 96 men had perished.
Art Deco at Hoover Dam?
The Hoover Dam site today has many fascinating works of art in the art-deco style, including two winged figures flanking a 142-foot flagpole, of which around the base is a terrazzo floor with inlays including one of a star chart. These pieces, along with the dam itself, perfectly reflect the era in which it was built.
Hoover Dam Tours
The dam is a major tourist attraction and a perfect day trip from Las Vegas. There are plenty of tours from which to choose, too. Options include bus, helicopter, and airplane. Most flights from Vegas to the Grand Canyon fly past the dam and offer outstanding aerial views. Here's a list of links to the most popular Hoover Dam tours:
The Hoover Dam is one of the west's most iconic pieces of modern engineering. Whether experienced from the ground or the air, you'll come back spellbound. But don't make the mistake I did: Charge your camera and bring and extra memory stick! You'll be shooting photos like it's going out of style.
Make it a grand day,
P.S.Interested in a coach tour but not sure who to use? Check out my Top 3 Hoover Dam bus tour operators. My ratings are based on quality, safety and price. .
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