Dam Fine

Hoover DamAs we neared the end of our holiday, there was something of a dash to tick off the things on our must-see list and one of the biggest was the Hoover Dam.

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.

Hoover DamWe 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.

Rest RoomThere were reminders of the 1930s as we crossed the dam, not least in the signs for the rest rooms and their art deco interiors.

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.

Winged Figures of the RepublicOn 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.

Security SignAnd so we descended the steps to the airport-style security at the entrance to the new glass and concrete visitor centre.

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.

Hoover DamThis 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.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

8 comments… Add yours
  • Roger Green 14th May 2012

    I imagine it is a bit of a jingoistic message. Though I’ve never heard that particular one, I’ve heard plenty of others..

  • Boulder Pudding 14th May 2012

    A dam good story! Your American accent in the commentary was quite convincing – only occasionally did you revert to Mancunian monotone. Whether one use the name “Hoover” for the dam or “Boulder” may betray one’s view of the dam’s painful history.

  • Trevor Rowley 14th May 2012

    What in Heaven’s name is a rest room? I know it’s a toilet so why don’t our American chums say so. You’re certainly not going in there for a rest, are you? Whatever happened to lavatory and water closet? I recall my late father’s great uncle Bill, a single man who died in his nineties after becoming blind several years earlier. As he got up out of his fireside chair, having left his pipe gently smoking on his side table, he would say, “I’m just going down that back” then shuffled down the backyard as he felt the outside of the kitchen to guide himself on his way to the outside toilet.

  • Mr Parrot 14th May 2012

    It is surpring how quickly one falls into the local patois, although I never lost my native dropped aitches and long vowels.

    Note that I said ‘rest room, for no other reason than that is what it says on the sign, but I did write ‘lift’ and not ‘elevator’.

  • Trevor Rowley 15th May 2012

    Here goes, in a further attempt to raise the already high standards that Mr.P has set on here, I’m now considering terms we might wish to use for what we might want to do when we get into said rest rooms. I cringe at expressions like “going to spend a penny” and “going to the loo” as they sound so quaint and ladylike. I much prefer to tell the world in quite clear terms that “I’m off to the gents’ for a pee”. Another cracking expression which seems to have crept into the language up here in the north in fairly recent times is “having a wazz”. However, the best, by far, for me would be an expression often used by a British/Asian former work colleague who spoke with a rich Lancastrian accent and would announce,”I’m off to wet mi boots”.

  • Mr Parrot 16th May 2012

    Or off to insult the porcelain?

  • Jay from The Depp Effect 16th May 2012

    I missed the Hoover Dam tour when we were over that way last because I was flying on to LA to meet up with friends while OH did this tour and met up with us later. He was most impressed with the dam, and adores American history, especially if there’s politics involved, so he had a GREAT time! I remember him telling me about these statues and something about the Illuminati, but since it isn’t actually one of my ‘things’, I forgot it. Now, seeing how impressive they are, my interest is sparked!

    Maybe next time I’ll get to do the dam tour.

    Pun intended!

  • Mr Parrot 16th May 2012

    Jay, it is certainly worth the visit. I think the conspiracy theorists get carried away with the astrology and astronomy references when in fact all the builders were doing was setting the dam on a par with the Pyramids etc and incorporating details of its construction.


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