Called a "modern civil engineering wonder of the United States," the Hoover Dam is one of the most intriguing historic tourist attractions in the US, and a must-see for those planning a trip to Nevada or Arizona. The project, named so in honour of Herbert Hoover's US presidency at the time, as well as for his use of the scheme to create jobs during the Depression, took a total of five years and m (inflation adjusted 6m) to build.
Originally sought to be constructed in response to flood endangerment, the project was commissioned in 1922 but began construction only in 1931. It was then found that the banks of the Colorado River Basin would periodically overflow when melted snow ran off the Rocky Mountains, thus taking a toll on a number of farming communities along the way. But, with the construction of the dam, crucial flood control was effectively provided, as was an allowance for irrigated farming in the area. In addition, the dam would contribute to holding a dependable water supply for parts of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
After the combined work of 8,000 people within seven contracting companies, the dam was finished - two years ahead of schedule. It is an impressive fact, considering that the contractors and engineers faced challenges such as an estimated 120 year settling and curing process for the concrete of the dam. They eventually found that piping refrigerated water through the concrete would speed up the process.
Over 221 meters high and 379 meters long, the dam borders Arizona and Nevada in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River and even bears a clock on each respective side to signify the time difference between the two states. While the original plans for the facade of the dam and power plant consisted of a simple wall of concrete topped with a Gothic balustrade, criticism soon demanded a more remarkable design. Los Angeles based architect, Gordon B. Kaufmann, was brought onto the project to streamline the exterior design. The result was a production of one of the most explicit examples of Art Deco anywhere in the world today.
With eight to ten million visitors to the Hoover Dam each year, not including the traffic that crosses the dam of course, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is the fifth busiest national park in the United States. But it isn't the only frequented attraction in the area. Las Vegas is only 30 miles Southeast of the Hoover Dam, making it a common act for visitors to stay in Las Vegas and simply drive or take a bus to see the dam. It's a long way to go, but flying in and Hiring a Car is easy enough these days thanks to the power of the web. The drive is about an hour each way, and visitors have the added pleasure of experiencing the hub of the "city that never sleeps." The Las Vegas Hilton, a centrally located hotel, often advertises special offers for various times of the year.
It's a historical monument with an attraction for all, a visit would definitely not be anything less than spectacular.