Hoover Dam


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North America » United States » Nevada » Boulder City
October 15th 2017
Published: October 16th 2017
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blog 10-15-17 Hoover Dam

Today we wanted to get up and out early. We wanted to take the Dam tour and I read that the tickets sell out early and you can only buy them in person. So we were up at 6:30 and out of here by 8:35 am.

The dam was not far from our campground and as we drove just one mile we could see Lake Mead but a little longer to go til we got to the dam. We parked and went to the tour desk and Ginnie and I were the last 2 tickets sold for the 9:30 tour. We were ushered in to see a 10 min movie on the building of the dam then whisked away to a waiting elevator that took us 52 floors down in 90 seconds. It didn't feel like a drop but our ears let us know we went down. Once there our tour guide told us about construction and how the river first had to be diverted from the ground where the dam was to be built. That was accomplished by drilling 2 giant holes through the rock on either side then building pipes to carry the enormous volume of water from the dam site. They had to build a coffer dam to raise the level of the water to go through the pipes so the work site was free of river water. That process took 2 years.

They started pouring cement for the dam itself in blocks and the pouring never stopped until they were done, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It took 2 years to finish the concrete work. Refrigeation pipes were put in the concrete to help cure it faster, ventilation shafts were built in as were tunnels for the men to work inside the dam. This was the first dam of it's size and no one was sure of the specifications required so the dam was overbuilt by about 70 %. It is so well built they expect it to last 2,000 yrs and can withstand an 8. 1 earth quake.

It was started in 1931 during the great depression so there was no shortage of willing workers. The town of Boulder City sprung up to house all those workers. It is truly a wonder to behold.

All these facts we learned in the first 1/2 hour then we went into the turbine room where we saw the 8 turbines on the NV side, there are also 11 turbines on the AZ side which we did not see. They have to be constantly maintained and there is a crane mounted on rails overhead that takes the turbine apart when service is needed. The dam supplies electricity to millions and also provides recreation on Lake Mead and water for crops in CA . AZ also gets water as does Mexico, we wondered about Mexico.

From the turbine room we went into a tiled tunnel which led to a concrete tunnel where we saw the ventilation shaft and took pictures from inside it looking outside. We were almost at the base of the dam at this point and also saw 2 flights of stairs, one went up to the top of the dam, the other to the bottom. Can't imagine how anyone could do the up set of steps. Pictures

Our tour ended at the top of the dam from an elevator that was the original tour elevator in 1935. It was lined in green marble and had brass doors that are polished daily. Really fancy and quite extravagant given the economic state of the country at that time.

We walked along the top of the dam on both sides so we could see the water backed up forming Lake Mead and on the other side the water release and electric power lines. Cars still drive over the dam so we had to be careful not to get run over. You'll see a new bridge in the pictures that is now the highway bridge for most traffic so the people who drive over the dam do so just to say they did.

The gift shop was just a short walk but we took the snack shop door instead and saw ice cream and thought that would be a great idea. So we each had a cup and sat in the shade overlooking the dam and enjoyed our "lunch". The gift shop had nothing we wanted so we got the car and headed to the Lake Mead visitor's center. We got our Park book stamped because Lake Mead is a National Recreation Area and we were happy campers. We drove down to the marina just to get a closer look then went home to rescue the dogs.

They were excited to see us because we had promised another trip to the big dog park when we got home. So off we went and they played and ran around for a while until other dogs came so we left and came home.

The afternoon was one of rest then we decided to have Chinese for dinner and there just happened to be a resturant in town. We did a quick grocery run first then ordered our food to go and went home and ate outside in our lovely yard.

A quick note on plastic bags. When we went to the store here in NV our food was put in plastic bags and into the shopping cart. In CA there are no plastic bags and you either bring your own with you or pay 50 cents apiece for a more substantial plastic bag, or $1.00 for cloth. The first trip in CA we bought one bag and vowed to bring cloth, which we have, the next shopping trip. Did we remember, NO! So we put the groceries in the cart and put all the items loose in the back. Next trip we had the bags in the car but didn't bring them into the store. OH, glad to be out of CA......

We put some things away then came in to retire early, moving again tomorrow to Hurricane, UT.


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