by Emily Sims
When planning activities for my parents’ visit to see me in Las Vegas, I knew I’d have to include a trip out to Hoover Dam. Not that I really wanted to go to the dam… I really didn’t, but I knew my dad would want to see it. Thus Hoover Dam made it onto our schedule for the weekend. I figured I would be soldiering through a boring field trip reminiscent of elementary school, bored out of my mind and counting the minutes.
I was wrong.
Hoover Dam is extraordinary–that such a feat of engineering was completed in the 1930s without the aid of modern technology is truly astonishing. It took five years to build, and workers only got two days off a year–not a week, a year.
The dam itself is a marvel, but just as impressive is the newly completed Hoover Dam bypass bridge. It opened on Oct. 16, 2010, and stands 890 feet above the ground. The bridge has a pedestrian walkway as well, and my parents, Alex and I walked from Nevada to Arizona on that bridge, nearly 900 feet off the ground, on a blustery day. Needless to say, I was scared.
We toured the power plant portion of the dam, during which I listened to nothing the tour guide said. My dad was the only person who asked her questions, because that's how my dad is.
Before walking out onto the observation deck, I snapped a photo through the window. I look like a ghost photographer.
This is my mom, Elaine, out on the observation deck. I still can't believe the dam was built in the 30s. Seeing it really altered my perspective of what humans are capable of.
Alex leans over the rail of the observation deck to see the Colorado River below. The new bypass bridge looms in the distance.
We left the observation deck and walked across the dam itself. This is a view of Lake Mead, created by the dam.
These two statues are on the Nevada side of the dam, and are featured in a scene in the book "The Lightning Thief." People rub the statues' feet for good luck, which is why they appear gold.
Alex plays Atlas and holds up the weight of the bypass bridge.
After walking across Hoover Dam, we decided to walk across the bypass bridge. It's as wide as a normal hallway, and being 900 feet off the ground on a windy day was just a bit terrifying. Just a bit.
Alex and I peer below the bypass bridge. That look on my face is a look of terror. You can't see it, but I've got a death grip on Alex's right arm.
A view of Hoover Dam from the bypass bridge. The bridge connects Nevada and Arizona.
The white line on the rocks is where the water of Lake Mead used to be.
This is where the state lines of Nevada and Arizona meet on the bypass bridge. Alex's pumas are on the left, my shoes are on the right.
One last view of Hoover Dam from the bypass bridge. 96 people died while constructing Hoover Dam. Some workers didn't have hard hats, so they dipped baseball caps in tar.
Alex and I walking back across the bypass bridge.
Emily found unexpected inspiration at the Hoover Dam. Why not plan your trip and see for it yourself?