A Treasure of Arizona, Nevada & The World
Construction began in 1931 and Hoover Dam was completed in 1936. It still stands tall as an engineering marvel high above the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada. Hoover Dam attracts over 7 million visitors from around the new world every year feeding vast tourism into the Las Vegas Nevada and Arizona economy.
The building of Hoover Dam took the brilliance of over 200 engineers to pull-off what many deemed as almost impossible. And it was the fortitude of over 7,000 dam workers that endured amazingly harsh conditions and extreme dangers to complete Hoover Dam almost two years ahead of schedule. Read more about “Men, Women and Children of Hoover Dam”.
The mission of Hoover Dam was multi-purpose. Flooding along the Colorado River as it made its way to the Gulf of California had to be controlled. The water-flow had to be harnessed to provide much needed water to the fertile, yet arid agricultural areas of California and Arizona. And hydroelectric energy was to satisfy the requirements of millions and millions of people in adjacent regions.
A scenic by-product of Hoover Dam is the gigantic reservoir of Lake Mead, a stunningly beautiful water recreation wonderland. This boating, sailing, fishing and house-boating paradise attracts over 10 million visitors a year. Lake Mead covers 550 miles of majestic shoreline and 247 square miles of area which is twice the size of Rhode Island. Its capacity of 1 1/4 trillion cubic feet of water would cover the entire state of Pennsylvania one foot deep.
But, back to Hoover Dam itself which is 726 feet tall and 1,244 feet long. At its base, Hoover Dam is 660 feet thick which is 60 feet longer than two football fields laid end-to-end. Combined with its top thickness of 45 feet, there is enough concrete (4.5 million cubic yards) in Hoover Dam to build a two-lane highway from Seattle Washington to Miami Florida. Or imagine a four-foot wide sidewalk around Earth at its equator.
An often asked question is how Hoover Dam can withstand the massive pressure and weight of Lake Mead which is constantly trying to flow down river to the Gulf of California. It’s answered briefly this way. Hoover Dam curves against Lake Mead and is fortified against the massive rock walls of Black Canyon. When the water compresses against the curved walls of Hoover Dam, the canyon walls push-back counteracting the awesome power of Lake Mead. This massive, but unseen, action squeezes the concrete arch together creating the mind-boggling strength of Hoover Dam. Read more about the construction of Hoover Dam.
Hoover Dam is only about 35 miles from Las Vegas Nevada making it a popular tourist destination of those visiting the casinos and nightlife that never sleeps. Over 20,000 vehicles a day cross Hoover Dam between Arizona and Nevada. Thousands from around the world take the Hoover Dam tour and ride the elevator down into the inner-workings of the dam. Hoover Dam offers ample parking in strategically located scenic areas overlooking the spectacular views across Hoover Dam to Lake Mead and the Colorado River through Black Canyon. Food, refreshments and tour guides make the visit even more enjoyable.
There is an abundance of fine hotels, budget motels and nearby casino hotels and resorts. Boat rentals and houseboat rentals area available at Lake Mead marinas and helicopter tours are an excellent way to experience the beauty of the entire area. And, be on the lookout for the rare Mountain Sheep that inhabit the mountainous canyons.
Visit Hoover Dam. You’ll be amazed.
Also see our other articles about Hoover Dam including how it was built, the men of Hoover Dam, the construction of its diversion tunnels and the high-scaler daredevils. Also view our map of Hoover Dam and its gallery of pictures.