We’d seen it several times before, of course, but only from the air, once on the flight path to McCarran Airport and twice from the Twin Otter to and from the Grand Canyon, but not up close and personal.
Our host volunteered to drive us there as he had business at Boulder City Airport. In the event, he didn’t make it and joined us on the tour of the dam instead.
We drove over the dam in his
ancient vintage Saab to park on the Arizona side before walking back. That meant that we’d changed time zones, from Pacific to Mountain time, although there was no need to adjust watches because of the odd way that Nevada operates daylight saving and Arizona doesn’t.
Of all the places we’ve visited, this was probably the most crowded which I suppose is to be expected given that the Hoover Dam is such an iconic landmark in the development of the US as the dominant industrial force at the time it was built.
From the dam we looked down on the Colorado River and towards the new road bridge that opened in 2010 at a cost of $240 million of anti-terrorist dollars.
On reaching the other side, we were met with more period artwork and the impressive ‘Winged Figures of the Republic’, the 30 foot high sculptures by Norwegian-born, naturalized American, Oskar Hansen.
Each weighs fours tons and ice was used to to position them without damaging the blocks of black diorite on which they sit.
They are a dramatic tribute to the dam itself and the men who built it, even if some people think it has more to do with the Illuminati and aliens.
The whole purpose of our visit was to take the $30 tour to explore the power plant and the tunnels inside the dam, but we were left frustrated. The tour was closed because the lifts weren’t working and we had to settle for the $8 visitor centre instead.
This mostly consisted of ten minute film recording the history of the dam and its construction. I don’t know when it was made, but it seemed a tad jingoistic for modern tastes, or perhaps I’m just a cynical tourist.
You see, the Hoover Dam doesn’t need hyperbole – it’s sheer size makes its own statement, as we saw from the observation deck.
It would have taken a wide-angle lens to capture it in its entirety, from its narrow top to girth if its base and the tiny cars and trucks moving about below.
I had thought about saying something like: ‘Only in America would they build such a monument to a household appliance’. But that would be trite, so I won’t. Instead, here is a short video I took from the observation deck.