Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Side Trip to Hoover Dam

American Icons

My dictionary says an "icon" is an enduring symbol.  As I travel across the United States, I am trying to get reacquainted with America's icons.  This is not the first time I've visited Hoover Dam.  Whenever I'm in Las Vegas for a few days, it's only a matter of time before I HAVE TO GET OUT.  A side trip to this iconic and incredible engineering marvel never fails to inspire me and frankly, (as corny as it sounds) makes me proud to be an American.  It occurred to me that the Hoover Dam symbolizes American ingenuity and tenacity.

I still have a hard time believing it was built just under five years and two years ahead of schedule.  Even more miraculous, it was built under budget.  Of course, this was during the Great Depression with a work force of  20,000 men who were happy for the work.  That Las Vegas was only 30 miles away, added to the incentive, I'm sure.  Because of  Hoover Dam, Las Vegas expanded, grew and boomed into the Happiest City of the World.

This dam tamed the mighty Colorado River, controlling its flow and creating the largest reservoir in the world behind it--Lake Mead.  The 1,400 mile long river, which flows from the Rockies to the Gulf of California is the reason we Californians can live in a semi-arid environment.   We now had water to drink and electricity to power our towns.  

Walking across this concrete structure, which is one of the largest man-made structures in the world, is a humbling experience.   This alone is worth the side trip; however, if you have an extra two or three hours, take the tour.  You have a chance to see the behind-the-scene mechanics (and the beautiful terrazzo floors.)
The Visitor's Center is open all year except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This time around, I visited it alone because my travel buddy forgot to leave his Swiss Army Knife in the car and they wouldn't let him in.  

We met at the cafeteria and had a nice lunch.  A side trip to Hoover Dam is always the highlight of my trip to Las Vegas.  Next time, I'm going to bypass Sin City altogether and drive straight here!


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