The Hoover Dam has long been on my list of landmarks to visit. I believe it was one of my very first posts on my old blog!! I don’t know if this will be at all interesting to you, but these kind of structures absolutely fascinates and boggles my mind!! So, if you aren’t interested in the story, just scroll through the photos, but this combination of structures sure have an interesting history…
Construction on the Hoover Dam, a concrete arch gravity dam, started in 1931 and was completed in 1935. It is built in the Colorado River on the border between Nevada and Arizona. The result of this dam wall is the largest mad-made dam in North America – Lake Mead. This dam would control floods, provide needed irrigation water and produce hydroelectric power.
To protect the dam from over-topping, two spillways has been constructed on either side of the Colorado river (one on the Nevada side, the other on the Arizona side). Water flowing into these spillways, drops into the impressive 180 m long and 15 m wide tunnels before connecting to the downstream main river channel. This complex spillway entrance arrangement combined with the huge elevation drop from the top of the reservoir to the river below was an engineering marvel in itself!
The large spillway tunnels have been used only twice, for testing in 1941 and because of flooding in 1983. After both times of use, inspection by engineers indicated that major damage occurred to the concrete linings and underlying rock. The spillways have been modified twice since and has proven to be successful.
Many deaths occurred during the construction of the Hoover Dam, but I won’t bore you with these details – Wikipedia has a FANTASTIC article on this structure!! Everything from the history, design, construction and everything in between!
An excerpt from the US Bureau of Reclamation explains some of the interesting architecture surrounding the dam: “… Here, rising from a black, polished base, is a 142-foot flagpole flanked by two winged figures, which Hansen calls the Winged Figures of the Republic. They express “the immutable calm of intellectual resolution, and the enormous power of trained physical strength, equally enthroned in placid triumph of scientific accomplishment.
The building of Hoover Dam belongs to the sagas of the daring. The winged bronzes which guard the flag, therefore, wear the look of eagles. To them also was given the vital upward thrust of an aspirational gesture; to symbolize the readiness for defence of our institutions and keeping of our spiritual eagles ever ready to be on the wing.” …”
Walking across the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial bridge gives you the perfect view and scale of the Hoover Dam. But if you want to look down, beware that vertigo might set in!! At a height of 271 m (or 890 ft), this bridge is the second highest bridge in the US! This bridge was a key component of the Hoover Dam by-pass project, eliminating sharp turns and blind curves.
The first concrete steel composite arch bridge built in the US, and the widest arch in the Western hemisphere, the bridge was completed and opened for vehicle traffic in 2010. This bridge poses an ongoing concern related to suicides, but as of yet, no safety features has been set in place to prevent this (except for the 1.4 m high steel bridge rail).