26 April 2012
Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River on the Nevada-Arizona border. It rates right up there with the Pyramids and the Panama Canal as one of the world's greatest feats of engineering. It happens to be only 1/2 hour drive from the house and proved to be a very interesting day-trip.
Constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression, the dam itself is a tremendous work of art and incorporated innumerable, very innovative technological advances. It was completed in 4-1/2 years (two years early) and on budget at $165M. Wow...that's impressive.
We peered out over America's largest man-made lake, Lake Mead, from several lookouts, drove over the dam and saw the lake's water as it returned to the Colorado River on the other side. The visitor center is flashy with a theater on one level, an excellent interpretive and interactive center on a second level and superb views of the dam, the lake, the river and a new bridge which spans the Black Canyon. Lots of statistics were provided, but the one that impressed me the most was the fact that the amount of concrete used in the dam would provide enough to construct a 4-foot wide sidewalk around the equator.
The dam's generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California. Additionally, Hoover Dam is a major tourist venue, attracting nearly a million people a year. With revenues from the power it sells plus the tourism income, the dam is financially self-sustaining and requires no federal assistance, i.e. none of our taxes are used for its maintenance, salaries, etc. Wouldn't it be nice if more public entities could/were required to support themselves?