Last weekend, my dad and I went to Nevada. While there, we went to the Hoover Dam. Neither of us had been there before, so I was really excited! I didn’t really know what to expect. Seeing a picture of something never has the same effect as seeing it in person.
It was amazing! It was huge! We got to walk around the top of it, which was really awesome. It looks big in pictures, but nothing beats standing at the top of the dam and looking all the way down to the bottom. Plus, there was also a gigantic bridge that I thought was beautiful, and there were lots of cables and metal work that are all a part of the dam.
I saw this sign on the Hoover Dam and thought it was cool. I didn’t know that the dam was named after one of our presidents. Then I started doing some research, and I learned many more interesting things about the dam.
Apparently, it wasn’t always named “Hoover Dam”. It was originally called Boulder Dam, because it was going to be built in Boulder Canyon about 10 miles north of where it is now in Black Canyon. After an engineering reassessment, the location was moved to where it is today. In 1930, the Herbert Hoover administration changed the name to Hoover Dam. Under the Franklin Roosevelt administration, the name was changed back to Boulder Dam in 1933. Then, under Harry Truman, the name was once again changed back to Hoover Dam permanently.
Construction of the Hoover Dam began in 1931 and was complete in 1936. It took 200 engineers and 7,000 dam workers to build it, and they finished almost 2 years ahead of schedule!
The dam is a giant wall made of 3,250,000 cubic yards of concrete, which doesn’t include another million for the support structures, intake towers, and the power plant. Two batch plants were built on the site to make all the concrete that was needed. They used railcars and overhead cable systems to transport the concrete to different places throughout the dam.
(From the very top of the Hoover Dam looking all the way down)
The Hoover Dam was crazy high. 726 feet tall to be exact, and 1,244 feet long. The dam is actually 660 feet thick at the base, which is 60 feet longer than 2 football fields put end to end. You’d never know that just from looking at it! It’s amazing to learn about all these things you never see but that make up the Hoover Dam.
(View of Lake Mead from the top of the Hoover Dam)
Lake Mead is a by-product of the Hoover Dam. Through the dam, the lake offers water and hydroelectric power to the people of Nevada and Arizona. With 550 miles of shoreline, 247 square miles of area, and 1 1/4 trillion cubic feet of water, Lake Mead attracts 10 million visitors a year. You can take boat and helicopter tours to explore the beautiful lake, or take in the view from the dam.
(The memorial built in honor of the people who died while building the Hoover Dam)
If it weren’t for the memorial, I doubt I would have ever thought about the possibility that people died while building the dam.
Work on the dam was very dangerous. “High Scalers” were people who would hang by a rope from the canyon walls in order to clear out rock and debris that was in the way of the construction. The heat alone was enough to kill. 25 people died during the first two months when the heat ranged from 116-130 degrees. Conditions were harsh during the Great Depression, and people struggle to find ways to protect themselves from the elements and feed their families. People gave their lives to try to provide for their families and build the dam that would provide water and electricity for millions of people. Knowing that about the people who lived and died while working on the dam gives me a greater appreciation for it.
(Dad and I in front of the Hoover Dam)
Seeing the Hoover Dam with my dad was an amazing experience and a whole lot of fun. But now that I know a little bit about the dam, its history, and the people who worked on it, I feel even more in awe of that large concrete structure. It truly is an amazing piece of work and an important part of our history.
I would absolutely recommend visiting the Hoover Dam. Just make sure you take your camera. You’ll be glad you did!