Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

Hoover Dam
Lake Mead
Hoover Dam from above
Five years in the making, and at a cost to some 96 lives (“They died to make the desert bloom”, reads a monument at the site), Hoover Dam is an architectural wonder.

As a major tourist attraction, it boasts nearly a million visitors every year. As a dam, it is responsible for the provision of a large proportion of power to the states of Nevada and Arizona.

Indeed, the growth of the entire southwest of the United States can be tied to the electricity created by the dam.

Located just 48 kilometres south-east of Las Vegas, Hoover Dam (once known as Boulder Dam) is an easy and very popular day-trip from Nevada’s largest metropolis. Towering some 726 feet above bedrock, and measuring a whopping 660 feet thick at the bottom, the dam boasts not only grand-scale engineering feats, but also beautiful Art Deco elements, unusual in projects of its kind.

The guided tour is a little hurried, but if you want to get up close and personal with the dam, it is recommended; and if you get in early enough, you should beat the soaring desert heat and the throngs of tourists. Be sure to wear some comfortable walking shoes though. Overall, a dam interesting place.

Lake Mead is what you get when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.

Located on the Colorado River and formed by water impounded by Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States; and as the sole provider to nearly all of its water demands, Lake Mead is the lifeblood of Las Vegas. Without it, the city would not exist as we know it today.

In stark contrast to ‘Sin City’, the lake area offers stunning natural beauty such as sandy beaches and rocky cliffs, as well as recreational activities including fishing, swimming, canoeing and camping. Boating remains the most popular activity though, thanks in no small part to the lake’s five marinas.

Also awaiting visitors are several islands which, owing sadly to recently receding water levels, have grown in size. Over the past nine years alone, Lake Mead’s water level has dropped by in excess of 100 feet, reaching in mid-October 2010, a new record low of 330 metres.

Interestingly, the lake actually took longer to fill than Hoover Dam took to build, six drawn out years. Hopefully, it’ll take a lot longer for the dam to empty.

 

Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H
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