Hoover Dam – One impressive dam tour

Hoover Dam

Know where you can cuss and not get in trouble for it? At Hoover DAM. Ha!

My daughter and I took a tour there recently. It was interesting.

Our elevator operator said he was not our guide but he was our DAM elevator operator. The 20 or so people packed in the elevator laughed.

Anyone who has seen “Vegas Vacation” can relate to the DAM jokes.

Hoover Dam was our first stop on a southwest US road trip. We picked up the rental car at the Las Vegas airport and headed to Boulder City, home of the Hoover Dam.

Fortunately, we missed the split where Highway 93 takes you to the dam. Instead, we drove the business route, which takes you through downtown of the small town. We were glad we did that. The downtown area has a cute 2-3 block area with some sculptures and attractions.

Hoover DamWe stopped near the Area 52 store and took pictures of each other in the flying saucer outside the store. Hoover Dam

Then, as we walked back to the car, we laughed at the signs posted at the trading post souvenir store – Dead Cows sold here, everything is for sale, etc. Cute.

Once at Hoover Dam, we signed up for the power plant tour. I guess there is an additional tour that takes people inside the bones of the dam. But, on this day, only the power plant tour was open.

It was interesting. We walked inside one of the tunnels originally built for workers to give them access to the mountains to build the spillways the workers needed to reroute the Colorado River in order to build the dam.

Hoover Dam

The tunnels to divert the river were expected to take two years to complete. Workers completed them in about a year. The work schedule covered 24 hours a day. Workers were given two days off a year – July Fourth and Christmas Day.

Once the Colorado River had been diverted, work on the dam ensued. The entire project took less than five years to complete. President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the dam in 1935. The project was originally thought to take seven years to complete. The dam was completed two years ahead of schedule. About 21,000 workers were used over the length of the project. A little more 100 men died building the dam.

Hoover Dam

The power plant tour consists of two main areas – Penstock viewing and the power plant generator (www. usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam):

Penstock Viewing: This location is atop one (of four) of the huge 30-foot-diameter pipes that can transport nearly 90,000 gallons of water each second from Lake Mead to the dam’s hydroelectric generators. An animated display helps describe the complexities of the construction of the dam, and how it presently operates.

Powerplant Generators: A quick elevator ride up to the Nevada powerplant balcony takes you to a panoramic view of the 650-foot-long Nevada wing of the powerplant and eight of the dam’s 17 huge generators. Also, don’t miss the beautiful and intricate terrazzo floor designs under your feet. A great spot for pictures!

The tour takes you about 530 feet beneath the surface.

Once atop the facility, people can roam the dam area. We walked across the dam, which is more than half a mile long.

Hoover Dam

Looking down toward the bottom can be a bit of a challenge if you have vertigo or are afraid of heights. Apparently, it would be a 756-foot drop if one were to fall.

The dam is an engineering and construction marvel. It’s amazing to think about how many people were involved to build this thing 80 years ago. And, how quickly they built it.

Hoover Dam

The view of the area is spectacular. Lake Mead on one side and the Colorado River on the other.

The mountains next to the water are beautiful to look at. There are white sections on the mountains. That marks the highest water level for Lake Mead, as it took a few years to build up the lake before releasing water through the dam into the Colorado.

Hoover Dam

Along the top of the dam are monuments for people to visit.

The Winged Figures of the Republic has the American flag flying high with two winged statues on either side. On the ground is a compass consisting of the zodiac signs, aligning with stars.

Hoover Dam

Nearby is a memorial recognizing the men who died during construction of Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam

While we were a little disappointed we didn’t get to take the full dam tour, my daughter and I had a great time. It was the start of a fun dad-daughter road trip.

Hoover Dam