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Mighty Hoover Dam is one of the West's most iconic images. The 700-foot-tall dam was built to tame the legendary Colorado River. It also created Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the United States.

A Few Interesting Facts About The Hoover Dam

the hoover damThe Hoover Dam is situated on the borders of Arizona and Nevada and has been constructed to control floods, provide water for irrigation and generate electricity for key cities in the southwestern U.S. For many years, it enjoyed the title of largest dam in the world (Three Gorges Dam in china now holds the title) and is still well known and widely visited because of the many attractions that one can see and do at the dam.

The Colorado River was flowing unchecked for a long time before the dam was constructed. Each spring the river would breach its banks and flood the farmland and communities adjacent to its waterline. The overflow was such that it often caused large-sized deltas in places like the Gulf of California in Northern Mexico (between the states of Baja and Sonora).

This river-fed havoc needed to be controlled and thus the idea for a dam was born. There were many unsuccessful attempts to control it. This changed when Herbert Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce, green-lighted plans to build a dam at Boulder Canyon. Engineers later scrapped that location for Black Canyon.

Construction ran from 1931 - 1935, right in the middle of the Great Depression. More than 5,000 men were employed to work the project and more than 100 died upon its completion. It was a project of massive scale, the retaining wall (700+ feet!) alone requiring more than 3 million cubic yards of concrete to build.

The dam, named after Hoover when he became the 31st president of the U.S., led to the making of the Lake Mead Recreational Area. Home to the largest man-made reservoir in the country, the region is packed with recreational opportunities, including hiking, swimming, boating and fishing. Nowadays, more than 8 million people a year descend on the lake and its environs.

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Concerning the dam itself, there are guided tours inside and outside the structure. The highlight is the turbine room at the bottom of the dam. The top of the dam hosts a two-lane road that connects Nevada to Arizona. Since the opening of the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge in 2010, only pedestrians are allowed in this area.

Other attractions that people visiting the Hoover Dam can enjoy include the Valley of Fire and the impressive Red Rock Canyon. If time permits, try to squeeze in a trip to the Spring Mountains and the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.

Today, the Hoover Dam is the major delivery system of fresh water to consumers in Nevada, Arizona and California. It's also a prime source of hydroelectric power for more than a dozen municipalities as it generates more than 4.2 billion kilowatts each year!

Happy Travels,

P.S. Not sure who to travel with? Read this canyon airplane tour review site where trips are rated based upon quality, price and safe practices.