On-line Newsweek’s top 25 tourist attractions in the United States include Pike Place Market in Seattle, Venice Beach in the LA area, and Lincoln Park in Chicago. These are all worthy places to go but not in my top 25. Hoover Dam is.
I vowed never to write about much visited places, but today I’m breaking that promise because while in Las Vegas Ruth and I went to Hoover Dam for the first time. We have been to Las Vegas many times without going to see this dam, but we had additional time and headed for Henderson. There were thousands of people there to see it, and I quickly learned that it’s impossible to see this structure without spending money. The minimum is $10. I saw lots of big prices for tours to see Hoover Dam, but most of the others were doing exactly what we were doing, seeing it as cheaply as possible. The $10 was for parking. Part of the lure was the fact that Lake Mead is at a historic low.
Hoover Dam was constructed between 1931 and 1936. It cost 240 million dollars to build. There were 100 deaths associated with its building. Today it’s the most visited dam in the world.
Hoover Dam has not had a perfect history. Due to high winds in 2006, its South Tower buckled and collapsed. It has been holding back Colorado River water since 1935 and is largely responsible for the boom that is Las Vegas. Lake Mead, the center of a large national recreation area, joins with another dam holding back Lake Powell upriver is the Glen Canyon area. Both lakes are at historic lows and there has been some talk about getting rid of one of these dams.
Lake Mead, which does not provide the water for the Bellagio water show, is at its lowest point since Lake Mead filled. We were told that the lake is down 100 feet, but the man who told us this pointed out that there is still plenty of water in both lakes.
A break in Hoover Dam would cover 10 million acres with water. This water would be 1 foot deep and flood the towns of Laughlin and Needles.
Ruth and I both noticed that the water in Las Vegas smelled in our hotel room at first, but the odor went away eventually. The barrel rider in Kanab, UT told us that her town could support a population of 35,000 easily with water that already exists.