Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Where’s the dam tour!?!

Where's the Dam tour!?!

After a very full day of exploring Death Valley on Saturday (that’s a long post, which will have to wait until I return from MI next week), we back-tracked from Pahrump to Boulder City, where we settled in for a few weeks at the Lake Mead RV Village,

Lake Mead RV Village

while we do some flying back & forth between Las Vegas and Detroit.

Our site -- 1102










After arriving Sunday afternoon, we quickly had some lunch and headed down the road to the Hoover Dam, where we were hoping to catch the Dam Tour.  Unfortunately, they were all sold out for the day so we were going to have to come back.

Memorial Bridge

As long as we were there, we decided to walk up on the new Memorial Bridge, where you could get a good look at the dam.

On the bridge

When we drove past last week on our way from Kingman to Pahrump, we had seen people walking along the side of the highway bridge, but didn’t know where they were going

Memorial Bridge Bypass

. . . now we know!

Hoover Dam

The view from the bridge is pretty spectacular, even if it is a little dizzying getting out there!

Walking across the bridge

We walked out to the middle of the bridge, took a few silly pictures,

Ready to push Bryce over!


and then went back to to the car.  It was really crowded on the dam for a Sunday afternoon, so we were pleasantly surprised when we returned at 9am on Monday to find the dam almost empty!

We could get some pretty good pictures, without having to dodge cars or people.

Nevada side of the dam




Arizona side of the dam


Looking upriver towards Lake Mead, the view is spectacular!

Looking towards Lake Mead

Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s, as a means of controlling the flow of the Colorado River and regulating the water levels in order to eliminate floods and droughts.

The old Exhibit Hall

Originally referred to as the Boulder Dam, it was renamed in 1947 as the Hoover Dam, in honor of President Herbert Hoover, who was instrumental in getting the dam built.

Hoover Dam

Even arriving at 9am, the earliest dam tour we could get on was the 10:30am tour.  That wasn’t too bad, though.  it gave us time to watch the movie about the construction of the dam, and view the exhibits in the Visitor Center.

The new Visitor Center

The exhibits explained how the dam was constructed (under budget and two years ahead of schedule!),          Scale model of the construction

as well as how the dam provides power to the entire southwest US through the 17 hydro-electric generators contained in the Powerhouse.

The building of the Hoover Dam

The boys had fun checking out the interactive displays . . . lots of physics going on in here!


How is the power output increased?










Soon it was time for our tour, and we met up with the group and headed down 537 feet into the base of the dam. 

Arizona spillway

Our first stop was in the Nevada spillway, where the water travels from the tall intake towers into the powerplant.

Intake Towers











Inside the Diversion Tunnel

The diversion tunnels were built to divert the flow of the the river around the construction site.  One the dam was complete, the downriver diversion tunnels were plugged, while large steel pipes were added to the  upriver tunnels  (shown in the picture above) to carry the water to the turbine generators.

The water flows through decreasing diameter pipes on its way to the hydro-electric turbine generators, increasing in velocity.

Inside the Powerplant


The movement of the water spins the rotors in the generators,

These generate power for Arizona, California and Nevada

which generates electricity.  At full capacity, these 17 generators could produce over 2000 kilowatts of electricity.  There are also two smaller generators that produce all the the electricity needed to run the facilities at the dam – including the Visitor Center and the elevators used for the tours.     This turbine generates power used for the Dam itself









After the Powerplant, our tour took us into the dam itself, down this long hallway until we reached the first ventilation tunnel.

Inside the Dam

The dam isn’t just a boring concrete structure.  There was actually en element of design incorporated – art-deco style, with marble terrazzo floors, tile on the walls and ceiling of the tunnels, and shiny brass railings and doors.



The site of the dam, before construction began

At the doorway going into the dam, there was this picture of the canyon before the dam was built on the site.

It was interesting to see the difference in the before and after!









We reached the ventilation tunnel, and we all walked to the end to look through the vent.


At the end of the tunnel, we could look out over the powerplant and the river below,

In the ventilation tunnel

and had a great view of the Memorial Bridge.

View from the ventilation tunnel











Continuing our walk through the dam, we passed an earthquake sensor (our tour guide told us numerous times that the inside of the dam is the absolute safest place to be during an earthquake!),



Earthquake Sensor


and the stairs that go from the top to the bottom of the dam . . . 770 stairs at a 55 degree incline!

Stairs to the bottom of the dam

55 degree angle


I don’t think I’d want to climb all of those stairs!









Our tour ended with an elevator ride to the top of the dam, where we could look over the edge and see the ventilation shaft that we had looked out of. 

Looking for good luck


Our tour guide left us with a reminder to touch the feet of the winged statue outside the Visitor Center for good luck . . . of course Tom had to try it . . . not that he’s going to do any gambling while we’re here!








The Hoover Dam is truly a one-of-a-kind civil engineering marvel, and we were glad we had the opportunity to take the Dam Tour!

1 comment:

  1. It is an amazing place. We were there before the new highway was completed and the road to the dam was really twisty!! But the Dam Tour was a highlight of our travels...AMAZING!!!


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