Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam was one of the great engineering feats of the Great Depression of the 1930s in the United States.

Photo of Hoover Dam Wall, River, and Bridge
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Filed Under: United States

The Hoover Dam was one of the great engineering feats of the Great Depression of the 1930s in the United States. And impressive it is.

At its base, the massive concrete wall is 660 feet thick, so thick that the concrete is still curing. That means that, unlike most constructions that are fighting against aging from when they’re built, the Hoover Dam is actually getting stronger. At the bottom of the massive wall are two hydroelectric power plants, one on the Arizona side and the other on the Nevada side, each housing eight or nine enormous turbines.

The tour guides are careful to point out that the purpose of the dam is not to supply power to Las Vegas and that in fact none of the electricity generated at the Hoover Dam finds its way to that poster-child for consuming electricity with wanton abandon. And aside from generating electricity, the dam performs a vital role in controlling and distributing water supplies downriver.

Photos of the Hoover Dam

Photo of Hoover Dam Tourists at Lookout
HOOVER DAM, Nevada – Tourists overlook the Hoover Dam’s massive concrete wall from a viewing platform at the top of the dam on the Nevada side. In the background can be seen a little of Lake Mead on the Colorado River. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Hoover Dam Hydroelectric Turbines
HOOVER DAM, Nevada – The tops of the massive turbines generating electricity from the water flowing through the Hoover Dam and into the Colorado River. The turbines stand about 30 feet tall from the ground in this room with another 40 feet below this level. The room is about 650 feet long. At top can be seen one of the massive cranes that can lift 300 tons. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Hoover Dam Corridor
HOOVER DAM, Nevada – One of the corridors inside the thick concrete wall of the Hoover Dam. This particular corridor is tiled, but most of them are just bare concrete. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Hoover Dam and Colorado River with Bridge
HOOVER DAM, Nevada – Photo of the bottom of the Hoover Dam complex feeding into the lower Colorado River. At bottom of the frame are the twin buildings housing the hydroelectric turbines. At the top is the new Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge which now handles much of the road traffic over the chasm. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com

What to Know Before You Go

  • The Hoover Dam is just outside Las Vegas.
  • The Bureau of Reclamation offers Powerplant and Dam Tours that start at the Visitor Center. You can find more information about those here.

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David Coleman / Photographer
by David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »