First day on the road....

Boulder City Travel Blog

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One of the 'Winged Figures of the Republic'
Our first day on the road after leaving Las Vegas found us checking out Hoover Dam and the huge Lake Mead NRA.

I expected the dam to be much more industrial, just a plain concrete plug in the river and was pleasantly surprised by the elegance of the construction itself and the artwork on and surrounding it.

So here are the facts and figures:

Construction on Hoover Dam was started in 1931 and it was completed in 1935, ahead of schedule (imagine that!). At the time, a dam of this size was unprecedented and it is still the highest dam in the Western Hemisphere.
It was originally to be constructed at another site, Boulder Canyon, and to be called Boulder Dam. However, for technical reasons it was decided that the present location at Black Canyon would be better. It was then named for president H.
View downriver... makes you dizzy!
Hoover, who was in office when the construction started. The name was changed to Boulder Dam when Hoover lost the next election, and changed back to Hoover Dam in 1947.
With the available technology at the time, the construction of the dam is certainly admirable. The Colorado River had to be diverted and tunnels were dug for this purpose. Over 7000 people worked on the project (this was during the Depression) and more than 100 people died on the construction of the dam.
When visiting, don't miss the statue of the "high-scaler' next to the parking garager. High-scalers had the dangerous job of climbing the rockface to break away loose rock, using jackhammers and dynamite!
The amount of concrete used in the dam was unprecedented at the time and so large that it couldn't be poured at ance.
Lake Mead from the dam
It wouldn't have cooled in 100 years in that case so the only solution was pouring in 'blocks' and allowing each block to dry and cool before pouring the next.

The highway crossing Hoover Dam is a major highway crossing from Nevada into Arizona and is quite busy. The approach is quite scenic with lots of twists and turns. To alleviate the traffic, a road and bridge bypassing the dam are being constructed.

Most of the artwork on the dam I admired so much is by Norwegian-born Oskar Hansen.

On the Nevada side, you will see the so-called Monument of Dedication, consisting of a black round base with a celestial chart on it representing the day the dam was inaugurated by president Roosevelt. Incredibly, the chart was made by placing the blocks on pieces of ice. When the ice melted, the blocks dropped into their precise designated places. Seems that the chart is so precisely made that future people will be able to read the date of inauguration of the dam from it, 14.000 (!) years from now!
Flanking the chart are two truly impressive bronze winged figures (not sure if they could be called angels), the Winged Figures of the Republic.

Also close is a plaque dedicated to the men who died constructing the dam. I was impressed by the first sentence of the text: "They died to make the desert bloom."

Don't miss a small plaque placed into the rockwall nearby, dedicated to the black labrador dog who became the mascot of the dam's workers.

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One of the Winged Figures of the …
One of the 'Winged Figures of the…
View downriver... makes you dizzy!
View downriver... makes you dizzy!
Lake Mead from the dam
Lake Mead from the dam
Boulder City
photo by: Miranda-Maas