Vegas Vacation: Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam from the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

Hoover Dam from the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge
Photo Credit: ams

On our four-day stay in Vegas, my greatest wish was to visit Hoover Dam, a civil-engineering wonder, which is an easy 40-minute drive from Las Vegas. My current research subject, W.E. Dimorier, visited Boulder Dam, as it was first named, in the summer of 1935, just a month before it was dedicated by Franklin D. Roosevelt. During my visit, I was mindful that I was viewing the same structure Dimorier had been awed by nearly 80 years before.

We had heard that Boulder City, the town which was formed for the men who built Hoover Dam, is on the way to the dam and offers some fun shopping. So we budgeted time to explore a couple of antique shops, one of which was Goat Feathers Emporium , an antique mall with everything arranged in a neat and attractive manner, good for a Virgo. We didn’t purchase anything, but there were a few items we might have picked up, if we were driving home instead of flying.

While in Boulder City, we also visited the Boulder Dam Brewing Company, and we enjoyed sitting on the patio as we drank our craft beer and downed veggie burgers, fries, and onion rings. Not the healthiest of meals, but not the worst we could have done either.

Hoover Dam Power Plant Generators Photo Credit: ams

Hoover Dam Power Plant Generators
Photo Credit: ams

We spent a good deal of time at the dam, opting for the $15 each power-plant tour, which is not recommended for visitors who might be claustrophobic. We descended hundreds of feet from the top of the dam to the base, where the power plant generates 4 billion kilowatt-hours per year to serve 1.3 million people. I found most interesting the marble floors, painstakingly laid by Italian craftsmen. You would never see such art in a 21st-century power plant.

Tile Floor in Hoover Dam Power Plant. Laid by Italian Craftsmen Photo Credit: ams

Tile Floor in Hoover Dam Power Plant. Laid by Italian Craftsmen
Photo Credit: ams

After the tour, we crossed the road from the new visitor center to the old and watched a 10-minute presentation that told the history of the dam and the involvement by the seven states that the Colorado River serves. A 3-D model of the region offered illumination to accompany the various states and geographic features mentioned in the recorded presentation.

Hoover Dam Upstream Photo Credit: ams

Hoover Dam Upstream
Photo Credit: ams

We walked halfway across the dam and took pictures of Lake Mead and the Colorado River. The intake towers display the Arizona and Nevada times, because the dam is built on the states’ border. In daylight savings time, both states observe the same time, but when Nevada returns to standard time, Arizona does not, so for several months of the year, a trip across the state line is a trip forward in time.

From Hoover Dam--Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge Photo credit: ams

From Hoover Dam–Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge
Photo credit: ams

After we visited the dam and the gift shop, we drove a short distance to the 2,000-foot Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (Colorado River Bridge), which has a pedestrian lane for taking great pictures of the dam. Informational plaques are placed in several locations along the walking route from the parking lot to the bridge. These explain how the bridge was constructed and whom the bridge is named after. There are a good many steps to reach the bridge, but it is also wheelchair accessible, so if visitors get tired on the steps, they can easily hop off to the easier wheelchair route that switchbacks its way up to the bridge. The bridge is named for Mike O’Callaghan, who was a decorated Korean war veteran, a former Nevada governor, and Las Vegas Sun executive editor until his death in 2004. The bridge is also named for Pat Tillman, a star athlete who gave up his National Football League career to enlist in the U.S. Army, where he was killed by friendly fire in 2004.

The drive, the dam, and the dinner. All made for an enjoyable day and one of the major highlights of our trip to Las Vegas.

Other articles about our Las Vegas experience:

Vegas Vacation: Overview
Vegas Vacation: Vegetarians In Sin City
Vegas Vacation: Hoover Dam
Vegas Vacation: Red Rock Canyon
Flying Southwest
Apple Experience
Ann Silverthorn

Ann Silverthorn

Ann Silverthorn is a writer who won’t be classified or categorized. One day she’s writing about her Cairn Terrier rescues, and the next, she’s posting about a business topic or a research subject. Imagine the two of you are meeting for coffee, and she wants to share something new, interesting, amusing, or perplexing.

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