Our Brief Visit to the Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam, a towering concrete marvel on the Arizona-Nevada border, tames the Colorado River, providing water, electricity, and a popular tourist destination.

We stopped by the Hoover Dam for sightseeing on our way to Las Vegas. Because, why not? It is one of the famous landmarks of the USA and holds a very important purpose for the US states surrounding it. 

Well, in truth, seeing the Hoover Dam is in our plans for a very long time. We know that one of these days we will be seeing our family in Arizona. This is the perfect, auspicious time. The spot lies on the border of Arizona and Nevada, and we can stop for a brief moment to wonder at its marvel.

If given more time, it would be nice to go for a tour. I would like to learn more about its story, how the construction went, and see more views.

Here are some facts about the Hoover Dam with a quick Google search

Why is it called the Hoover Dam?

It is named after President Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the US. It was first called the Boulder Dam as part of the Boulder Canyon Project. The names Hoover Dam and Boulder Dam were used interchangeably for a time. (Source: US Bureau of Reclamation)

What are the 3 things the Hoover Dam does?

Per Britannica.com, “The dam is used for flood and silt control, hydroelectric power, agricultural irrigation, and domestic water supply. It is also a major sightseeing destination, with some seven million visitors a year, almost one million of whom go on tours through the dam.”

Harnessing the power of the wild Colorado River is but pragmatic. It is another great source of energy.

What did the Hoover Dam symbolize?

The construction of the dam yielded an unexpected yet meaningful effect no one would have imagined. It became a symbol of what American industry and workers could achieve, even during the depths of the Great Depression.  (Source: National Park Service)

It is sufficient to say that good things could come out even during the darkest of times.

How did the dam affect big cities?

The Hoover Dam was able to disseminate the wild Colorado River. It is the major source of water in the Southwest. Consequently, it serves as a catalyst for the development of major cities such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. (Source: History.com)

Having visited Arizona and Nevada, we couldn’t help but wonder how can these states sustain life with a limited water source. The desert is vast. I suppose the dam helps provide an abundant water source.

Fancy a science experiment?

According to this article entitled “Powerful Air Currents Defy Gravity Sending Falling Water Up In The Sky“, the big dam generates a powerful updraft causing things to fly upwards instead of down. 

Alas, we were not able to do this ourselves. So, watch this clip of this phenomenon.

Buried town?

The town of St. Thomas disappeared years after the completion of the Hoover Dam. Water slowly rose and buried the whole place slowly. 

At present, the town has re-emerged due to prolonged drought. Visitors can walk a trail leading to St. Thomas.

Read more about this story “Ghost Town Emerges from the Depths of Lake Mead“.

St. Thomas submerged after completion of the Hoover Dam
Photo courtesy of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area
The lake is running dry?

The first thing we noticed was that the water level was low. It is apparent that this is slowly going on. There is a spot erected on the dam with a trivia saying that in the past, water could swell up. The time that water is abundant in the lake is also the time that gas prices were less than a dollar.

Is there a chance for Lake Mead to re-fill? According to this editorial called “Why is almost no one planning for a future without the Colorado River?“, the last 20 years suggest that the lake will unlikely to refill once it drains.

Sounds apocalyptic. Hopefully, something could be done before it is too late. There is a lot at stake when the lake drains out.

Can you swim on the Hoover Dam?

It is illegal to swim on the dam’s spillways due to its dangers. There are ten powerful turbines in the dam that could suck anyone in no matter how good a swimmer you are. However, there is one person who successfully swam the river (and back!) with a little bit of luck. Read this interesting article called “This Drunk Guy Became the First to Swim Across the Hoover Dam and Live”.