Hoover Dam

Early in the morning, we drove down to the Grand Canyon Tour Company offices on Tropicana Blvd to catch the bus to Hoover Dam.

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We waited at the depot for the tour company’s shuttle buses from the hotels to arrive with the rest of the passengers for the tour.  Since we were staying at an AirBnB, we had to drive in ourselves. The temperatures were just right, though it was a cloudy day.  Our driver, Willie, spent the hour drive to the Dam telling jokes and providing information along the way.  This time of year, the bus wasn’t packed, so everyone had space to get comfortable.  He talked about the history of Boulder City, which we drove through on our way.  It was a cute town that has a great view of Lake Mead.

We stopped at an overview of the lake, created when the Hoover Dam was constructed.

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You can see where the water used to reach (the dark top of the island in the center) and where it is now, which is 8 feet above what it was last year.  But a drought that has been going on for 17 years keeps the water level low.

As we continued on to the Dam, we passed under the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.  Named for a former governor of Nevada and a former NFL player who gave up his career to serve in the military and was subsequently killed in Afghanistan, the bridge connects Arizona and Nevada together.

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Once we arrived, we departed the bus and headed for the tour area.

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We had to pass through metal detectors and and have our bags scanned, similar to going through TSA (though our shoes stayed on).  We had purchased the tour that included the generator room, so we first watched a short movie about the construction of the dam, which was probably one of the only government building projects that finished early.  Then, we were escorted to large elevators and taken down into the dam.

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Our first stop showed us a schematic of the dam, showing all the diverting tunnels, the ones that lead to the generators and how the water flows through the dam.  We even got to see one of the tunnels that routes the water.  It was currently in use and you could feel the vibrations through the floor.

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Then, we climbed back into the elevators and headed to the observation deck of the generators on the Nevada side of the dam.  The flooring was laid out to have two Art Deco symbols tiled into them.  One represents the turbines in the generators and one represents the electricity that is used in homes by depicting a wall socket.

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The day we were there, some routine maintenance was going on, with one turbine having the light cap off while that turbine was being worked on.

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They explained that if they needed to remove one of the turbines to do repair elsewhere, they would have to use two of the lifts, since each lift can pick up up to 30,000 pounds and each turbine weighs 58,000 pounds.

Finally, we ended up in the museum.  There were some interesting displays.

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Upon leaving the museum, we walked out to get a close up view of this marvel.

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You can tell the decade in which it was built, based on the amount of Art Deco architectural pieces on the dam.

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Then it was time to get back on the bus.  This led to the only thing we didn’t like.  Since we aren’t staying in a hotel. we had to sit on the big tour bus as it dropped off every single person at their hotels, including a side trip into the part of Las Vegas the tourism department wouldn’t be happy that we had seen.  While the drive to Hoover Dam was an hour, by the time we got back to the depot and to our car, the trip back was 2 1/2 hours.

For the most part, we enjoyed our trip, though by the end, we were done.  Perhaps if they had done like they do in the morning in reverse, as in dropping off people at the depot and using smaller shuttles to take people back to their hotels, it would be better.  Still, making a trip to Hoover Dam should be on your list of things to do off the Strip while in Las Vegas.

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