Tuesday, January 18, 2011


When we arrived in Vegas by Highway 93, everyone wanted to know, "Did you see the new bridge?" Referring, of course, to the new arched bridge over Black Canyon. It's a beauty, poised to provide a gorgeous view of Hoover Dam. The sun was behind it; I took tight shots of the super structure since my camera doesn't zoom wide enough to encompass the whole bridge.
 We actually marveled over the brand new parking garage, engineered to fit into a tight spot. And, the whole visitors complex is a gigantic affair with metal detectors, searches and crowd control lines. Quite a change from my last visit.
 The visitors center is the tan building off to the left. Its interesting that the grid towers lean out from the steep banks so that wires cannot touch the ground and short out. On the tour, they show a good film about the building of the dam. They had to invent new ways to pour and cool the concrete; they had to build roads and rails to get equipment and materials in. An amazing engineering feat by six combined companies.

And the dam itself, impossible to photograph adequately as you gaze down from above. One can't resist trying.  Its immense, concave, sheer-
If you click on my photos, they do enlarge. But, the best photos are on the Hoover Dam Website at:
If you like history, you'll enjoy this tour very much.
The underground part of the $11 tour is quite short compared to my previous visit, so it you like the mechanics of things, the $30 tour is your best bet. We saw the turbines, the part that is inside of the building, and not much else. Instead of walking inside of the spillway, and viewing a huge underground complex,  immense tools and parts, an interpretive center shows how the dam was constructed, and how it works. These huge turbines extend deep into the water below.
We enjoyed the sunny day and a walk across the dam. Skyscraper type intake towers like this bring Colorado River water into the turbines.
 The tower shadows made a painting on the water for this beautiful sunny day.
 The only wild life we spotted was a couple of chipmunks picking through the stark rocks for weed seeds.
Its kind of amazing seeing plants can grow on a heavy perpendicular rock wall, rooting into a small crack. 
I was happy to see they didn't forget the dam's mascot, who was run over by a truck he fell asleep under.
The blue waters of lake Mead accumulate behind the dam.
The over flow pipes set into the steep cliffs sit above the silver trail of the Colorado River heading down to Mexico.
And, tourists like me still trying to get a picture of that beautiful arched bridge.

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