Vacation 2005
Tuesday, November 1st, Day 4
Las Vegas, Day 3

Todays excitement consisted of a trip by motor coach to Hoover Dam and later in the day the show Jubilee at Ballys. Today is the last full day in Las Vegas so I made it a bit more relaxing than the others.

This day started with the pickup for the coach tour at approximately 8:45 from the side entrance of the Luxor. There was one more pickup at the Mandalay Bay and then the tour set off for the dam. There is some benefit in staying at the south end of the strip because you are very close to the airport and most of the tour pickups seem to go from north to south. It lets you sleep in a bit longer because the pickups are as much as an hour later than the ones in the north end.

It takes about 45 minutes to get to the dam which is 25 miles in a straight line or about 40 miles by road from Las Vegas. On the way there was a brief side trip to Boulder City. This city was built as the home for the construction workers during the 4 year period (1931 to 1935) that the dam was being built. It is a nice, older, somewhat Spanish style small town with a rich but short (75 year) history.

After leaving there it took about 10-15 minutes to get to the dam on a fairly windy road. Until 9/11 this was the main highway connection between Nevada and Arizona. It must have been quite a trick for the transport trucks to negotiate this road. Since 9/11 these trucks and all other heavy vehicles have had to take a detour of over 100 miles through I think it is Yuma Arizona as these types of vehicles are no longer allowed to drive over the dam. There is a new highway with a new high level bridge being built just downstream from the dam to deal with this problem. The only vehicles that can drive over the dam at present are cars, recreational vehicles under a certain size and trucks involved with the construction of the highway. All of these vehicles are thoroughly searched before being allowed to cross. Once the highway is completed in a year or two nothing will be allowed to drive over the dam.

Here are many of the pictures during this tour. I will also use two of the pictures taken on the helicopter tour of yesterday to give some overall views (it is impossible to get one when you are anywhere near it) along with some of the basic statistics about the dam once we get there.

Mountain Face 1 Lake Mead 1
As you head out of Las Vegas the guide points out this rock formation. Right in the middle there are some formations that look like a face looking upward. I can't clearly remember who they said it was but Abraham Lincoln comes to mind. Here is the first view of Lake Mead take as we left Boulder City. Lake Mead is named after Dr. Elwood Mead, who was the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, which was the government department who did the planning for, and oversaw construction of Hoover Dam.
Lake Mead 2 Hover Dam from Road
Another view of Lake Mead a bit closer to the dam. Our first view of the dam as the tour coach entered Black Canyon.
Hoover Dam Helecopter Face

The "first view of the dam" picture above was taken at the spot where the road comes into the canyon on the centre left side of this picture which was taken from the helicopter tour of yesterday.

Here are some basic facts and figures about Hoover Dam:
Height: 725.5 ft.
Width across the rim: 1180 ft.
Depth upstream to downstream at the base: 650 ft.
Depth at the top: 45 ft.

Powerhouse Measurements
Length: 650 ft approx. each wing
Width: 150 ft. at the generator room floor
Width (Centre section): approx. 400 ft.
Height: Approx. 154 ft above the water.

Hoover Dam Helecopter Side

Here are some facts and figures that relate to this picture. Arizona is above the dam and Nevada is below the dam in this orientation

The four towers on the upstream side of the dam are the intakes for the powerhouses and are connected to them by 30 ft. diameter tunnels. The towers are 390 ft tall and approximately 75 ft. in diameter. They sit on rock shelves in the canyon walls.

You can also see the spillways on both sides of the canyon (above the upper intake towers and below and left of the lower intake towers). These are approx. 650 ft long, 150 ft. wide and 120 ft deep. When in use the water goes over the crest, into channel, then down a 600 ft deep inclined tunnel and then out the gates you can see in the lower part of the picture above.

Powerhouse Inside 1 Powerhouse Inside 2
The first place you go on the Discovery tour is a theatre where you are presented some basic facts and figures. Then you are taken 600 ft. down to the Nevada powerhouse shown above. You can get an idea of the scale of this by checking out the size on the man standing at the top of the stairs in front of the first generator. This view from a slightly different angle shows the eight generators. Each one has a light on top to indicate if it is in use. Only the first two were at this time. You could see the shaft turning in the lighted opening between the two ribs just above the platform on the first generator. Each one generates 3 phase, 60 cycle, AC at 16,500 volts and an output of 82,500 KVA.
Powerhouse Inside 3 Dam from Visitor Centre 1
One last view of the generator showing one additional generator in the foreground of an entirely different type that was used (when it was built) to generate power for the dam and powerhouse. Here is a picture from the observation deck of the Visitor Centre showing about 550 ft. of the downstream face of the dam.
Arizona Transmission Towers Nevada Transmission Towers
One of the other interesting things here is how all the transmission towers are built at all sorts of unusual angles just to get the power up from the powerhouses below. These ones are on the Arizona side. Here are some of the towers on the Nevada side as well as a cable way originally built when the dam was. The power is increased in voltage from 16,500 to 287,500 volts by transformers sitting on decks outside the powerhouses.
Top of Dam Powerhouse External 1
The rim of the downstream side of the dam. The towers shown here contain elevators down to the central art of the powerhouse and other things. Here is one view of the powerhouses from the same spot as the previous picture. You can see the voltage step up transformers on the deck on the river side of the upper powerhouse.
Power from Middle of Dam Downstream View from Dam Centre
I have now moved to the middle of the dam. Here are the powerhouses again. Arizona on the left and Nevada on the right. I am just about straddling the Nevada Arizona border taking this picture. There are no generators in the centre section. It contains offices and the control room for the plant. This view is from the same spot. It was taken to show the river further down stream from the dam. The structures on the both sides of the canyon just beyond the powerhouses are for use if water has to be diverted around the powerhouses for some reason. Not likely to occur anytime soon because of low water levels above the dam (as you will see later).
Cranes for new bridge Arizona Intake Towers
In our last view downstream here is one of the construction cranes for the bridge for the new highway that will cross over the canyon. The intake towers on the Arizona side. The sign under the clock says Arizona Time because Arizona is in the mountain time zone and Nevada is in the Pacific Time time zone so it is one hour earlier than that. (11:15 AM). Being a Si Fi fan it makes me wonder how the incredible stress of the sudden time change in the middle hasn't stressed the dams structure. It must have been designed to be able to withstand these relativistic forces! (huh?)
Border Plaque 1 This is the plaque that indicates the Nevada/Arizona border (and the spot where the time changes). See the strip below the large plaque for the exact spot.
It also notes on the large plaque that in 1955 Hoover Dam was picked as one of the "seven civil engineering wonders of the U.S." as selected by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Lake Mead from centre of dam Nevada Intake Towers
Here is a shot down Black Canyon showing the reservoir (Lake Mead) created by the dam. You can see how low the water is by the light coloured band along the shore line. There is serious concern about this very low level. It has very rarely, if ever, been this low before. Here is a close up of the Nevada intake towers. If you could see the clock on this one it would say Nevada time and be an hour earlier than the one on the other side.
Upstream Face of Dam Arizona Spillway from Nevada Side
Here is the upstream side of the dam. You can see marks on the concrete indicating how high the water has been in the past. Here is another example of how low the water is. This is the Arizona Spillway from the Nevada side. These are used if the water gets too high. The ridge can be raised approximately 17 ft. if necessary to keep more water in the lake if required but never far enough to cause water to flow over the top of the dam onto the powerhouses below. It does not look like there is too much to worry about now or for the next while.
Angel Monument 1 Angel Monument 2

The Winged Figures of the Republic. This is a monument created for the dedication of the dam at the spot where President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated it on September 30th, 1935.


Here is a full view of the monument. The flag pole is 142 ft high.
It is too complicated to explain the exact meaning of this, so here is a link to the official government Hoover Dam web site where you can get the explanation:

You can get other info about Hoover Dam from here as well but this link will take you directly to an essay describing this and several other pieces of artwork around the dam.

Road across dam Visitor centre
This is the two lane highway that crosses over the dam. This will soon be replaced with the new highway mentioned above. A view of the Visitor Centre for the dam. This is were you go for the tour and the trip down to the Nevada powerhouse. There is a large parking garage across the road on the right that cannot be seen here.

The tour gave us one hour and forty-five minutes at the dam with about an hour of that taken up doing the Discovery Tour which takes you down into the powerhouse as well as various talks by the staff there. A bit more time would have been useful.

After leaving the dam the tour returned to Las Vegas and a very quick visit to the Ethel M's Chocolate factory. They make boxed chocolates there but the company is better known for M & M's. There wasn't much to take pictures of there so none were taken. The tour arrived back about mid afternoon at the hotel and I had a leisurely rest of the afternoon before heading up the Bally's to see Jubilee.

Jubilee started at 7:30 and is basically a musical with the typical Las Vegas style and pizzazz with a few topless dancers thrown in for good measure. There were seven acts. There were some jugglers, contortionists and two acts created around Samson and Delilah and the Titanic. The show was very well staged with the topless component not really playing a huge part except in the Samson and Delilah segment. It is just a somewhat older style show presented with modern productions values.

After this was over, I returned to the hotel and got ready for tomorrow and the flight to San Diego and the start of the cruise to Hawaii. See you then!

Originally Created: January 22, 2006
Last Updated: March 14, 2006