The Hoover Dam is an engineering feat that has not been duplicated in recent years. Straddling the boarder between Arizona and Nevada on the Colorado River, the world famous dam serves as the main source of electrical power, irrigation, and flood control for the entire Southwestern United States. In addition to serving the necessary duties of a dam, the Hoover Dam is also a tremendous tourist destination and draws millions of visitors each year!
The Hoover Dam is indeed named after the country’s 31st President Herbert Hoover; however, the politician was supporting the project long before he ever took the oath of office. During his stint as the Secretary of Commerce, Hoover began developing a plan that would tame the unruly Colorado River and provide necessary electricity and irrigation to the peoples of Southern California, Nevada, and Arizona. The result was legislation called the Boulder Canyon Project Act and was passed in 1928.
The Hoover Dam was completed in a record five years; work being started in the year 1930. At the time of its completion, the dam was the largest in the entire world. To expedite the project, engineers developed a technique that cooled and hardened the concrete quickly. In this way, the project time was cut from ten years to five. The cost of the dam was a mere $ 49,000,000 while the Boulder Canyon Project, comprising of Hoover Dam, Imperial Dam, and the American Canal had a cost of $ 165,000,000.
A project of this size does give birth to legends. It is estimated that 16,000 men and women toiled day and night to complete the project. Some casualties did take place, put no one is buried inside the walls of this dam, as popularly believed.
Hoover Dam’s measurements are mind blowing, especially for the early 1930s. Workers used 4,360,000 cubic yards of pure concrete in its construction, making the dam the first edifice to contain more masonry than Egypt’s Great Pyramids. The dam itself now ranks in as the 18th highest dam in the world, standing 726.4 feet tall and measuring 1,244 feet wide at the top of the structure. The dam weighs an estimated 6.6 million tons!
Before the construction of the dam, the Colorado River often breeched its banks and flooded nearby towns and fields. It was to this purpose that the Hoover Dam and Boulder Canyon project was conceived. With the completion of this project, the destructive nature of this river gave way to a constructive one and its power was harnessed for the good of the residents of Southern California, Nevada, and Arizona. The 17 generators of the Dam could produce about 2000 megawatts of electricity.
The Boulder Canyon Project also led to the creation of one of the most loved tourist destination- the lovely body of water, Lake Mead. The lake occupies an astounding 146,000 acres and is visited by thousands each year. The warm Sun gives the area a serene look and it is very near the Sin City itself, Las Vegas.
Those of you interested to visit the Hoover Dam, should first take a behind the scenes tour of the Dam by checking out the visitor’s center that is a sea of interactive information about the building and purpose of the dam. For the walk-“a-holics”, it is advisable to take your best walking shoes as you would go the very summit of the dam.