Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hoover Dam

Yesterday I mentioned Boulder Dam Hotel. Through the years there had been a bit of consternation as to what to call the dam. President Hoover, a trained engineer, strongly supported construction of a high concrete dam on the Colorado River to control its flows. In the 1800s and early 1900s the river would flood low-lying farmlands during the spring thaws and in late summer it decreased to a trickle. In 1928 President Hoover signed into law the Boulder Canyon Project Act, authorizing the construction of the dam. Democrats did not want the dam to be named after a Republican president, so for many years it was called Boulder Dam.  It took an act of congress in 1947 to make it officially Hoover Dam. The dam was the greatest dam of its day. It has been featured as one of the Top Ten Public Projects of the Century, as well as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The cost of the project, $165 million, has been repaid to the Federal Treasury through the sale of Hoover Dam power sales. There are tours of the dam available, as well as a power plant tour.
There are two power plants. The one we toured, pictured above, has eight massive generators. In the picture below you can see both power plants as well as the dam. In the background is Lake Mead.
Highway 93, a two-lane highway, use to traverse over the dam. Eventually it could not handle the high traffic volume so the highway was rerouted over a new bridge. That was built in 2010, another architectural feat. It is about 200 feet higher than the Arch in St.Louis. While walking over the bridge we discovered that it took us into Arizona and another time zone. The bridge straddles the states of Nevada and Arizona.

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