At any rate, naturally I took a lot of pictures from one of the very first places we went to while in the Las Vegas area - the Hoover Dam - and I figure it's about high-time I post some of them. As there are so many, I put a lot of them in the You Tube video a little further down in this post but I'll sprinkle a few more throughout. For example, this one up there to the right isn't the best picture ever due to that hovering green blob in front of the palm tree but I kind of liked it anyway! There's just something about palm trees in the desert that still amazes me though I really don't know why!
Okay then ... on with the post!
We arrived in Las Vegas around 10:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time and procured a rental car right at the airport to make the drive out to Hoover Dam. It's really not all that far from Vegas and we figured that by driving out ourselves, we could pretty much do things at our own pace. I must say, though, that Vegas traffic is not the most fun to drive in and I thought Jen was going to have a panic attack or something on the slightly twisty-turny road that gets one to the dam. Still, we made it in one piece and after parking in the dam garage, we made our way over to the dam visitor center.
Unfortunately, there were no dam tours the day we were there so we were limited to the Visitor's Center and walking around outside of the dam. Regardless, it was pretty damn impressive and while I was watching the movie they show about how and why the dam was built, I marveled not just on the fact that men built such a magnificent structure but that other men had thought of and designed it to begin with. For all that it was a tremendous feat to build such a thing, it never could have happened had someone not thought of how to do it first.
Speaking of building things, one of the very first things you see as you come around the corner approaching the dam from the Nevada side is the arch bridge that is being built over Black Canyon and the Colorado River located way, way, way down below.
Located approximately 1600 feet down river from the Hoover Dam, the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is going to be the new Route 93 and will eliminate the traffic that currently drives across the top of the dam. When finished in September of 2010, the bridge will be 840 feet above the canyon and provide pedestrian walkways so that people can stroll across the bridge (gulp!) to take pictures of the dam. I can only imagine that it will be one heck of an impressive view but not one that I will ever take in myself!
As for the Hoover Dam itself, it is an engineering marvel of the highest magnitude. When completed, it was both the world's largest electric-power generating station and the world's largest concrete structure though now it is currently the world's 35th-largest hydroelectric generating station and the Grand Toulee Dam is bigger. Trust me, that is hard to imagine!
Construction began on the project that would tame the Colorado River and provide much-needed water to the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming in 1931 and was completed two years ahead of schedule in 1936. Over the course of the construction, over 21,000 workers were hired to complete the project which provided much-needed jobs to workers hit by the Great Depression that gripped the United States.
Originally called the Boulder Dam project, the dam was officially named Hoover Dam in a Congressional Act of February 14th, 1931 that kept up the tradition of important dams being named in honor of whoever was the President in office at the time of construction. On May 8th, 1933, however, the new Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, who had been appointed by the new President (Franklin D. Roosevelt), removed Hoover's name from the dam and directed that it be called Boulder Dam instead. Ickes retired in 1946 following FDR's death in 1945 and on March 4th, 1947 California Republican Congressman Jack Anderson submitted a resolution to restore the name of the dam. On April 30th, 1947, President Harry Truman signed Public Law 43 which renamed the dam in honor of President Herbert Hoover who had played an instrumental role in its construction, first as the Secretary of Commerce and then later as the President.
In addition to the dam itself, one of the things I liked most was the monument by Oskar J.W. Hansen, a sculptor who moved to the United States from Norway. His monument consists of two 32-foot-tall winged figures, made of bronze, and is called "Winged Figures of the Republic." It sits on the Nevada side of the dam.
The winged figures contain more than 4 tons of statuary bronze and are done in an art deco style. They sit on a base of black diorite, an igneous rock, and in order to place the blocks without marring their highly polished finish, the figures were centered on blocks of ice and guided precisely into place as the ice melted. According to Hansen, the winged figures represent "the immutable calm of intellectual resolution, and the enormous power of trained physical strength, equally enthroned in placid triumph of scientific accomplishment."
Surrounding the base is a terrazzo floor, inlaid with a star chart, or celestial map, which pinpoints the precise astronomical time - September 30, 1935, 8:56 p.m. - when President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the dam. The floor also pays homage to the Native American heritage of the land which surrounds the dam. All in all, it's pretty cool!
Anyhow, I think I've bored you with enough history for one post so please enjoy the rest of the pictures below which don't do justice to the magnificence which is Hoover Dam. The only way to truly appreciate it is to visit it yourself and I'm sure you'll be as dam amazed and impressed as I was!