Monday, October 29, 2012

Hoover Dam

Delaney and I are in Las Vegas. An early morning start to get to the airport for a 9:45 flight. Quick and easy to Nevada, grabbing a rental car, and off to Hoover Dam.

It's an easy trip, and we drove over the dam, parking on the far side and walking back. We paused to take some pictures, here's the Arizona intake tower.

We wanted to tour the dam, and bought tickets but had to kill and hour.  We wandered around, and then sat in the cafe, relaxing in the warm desert sun. When our tour started, it was interesting. Down 500 ft into the dam to see one of the diversion tunnels used when the dam was being built, or now for overflows. Kind of overwhelming, and a little unnerving for me.

Then it was up to the power plant level. Here there are 17 generators, 8 on the Nevada side and 9 in Arizona. They are huge, being turned from below by water rushing past. Apparently since this is a federal operations, it only operates a peaks, not trying to turn a profit. Seems a shame, but good that we have peak capacity.

After that we split up groups, going on the dam tour for a little extra money. Worth it since we moved from the newer power facilities into the dam. Here's the ancient, original, art deco hallway stretching into the dam. 400 feet below the top of the dam, and probably 320 ft or so below the water in Lake Mead

We went into a tunnel that brought us back to the downriver side of the dam, walking through locks of concrete, which were poured and fitted together with corrugations. They can move in the event of an earthquake, which is interesting.

We came out at one of the vents, overlooking the downriver side, about halfway up the dam. It was an amazing view.

From there, we headed back and saw the staircase that goes from top to bottom. It's raked at a 60 degree angle, and understandably locked up. Very few inspectors go up it.

After the tour, Delaney wanted to go on the new bypass bridge, up above the dam. We'd seen it when we first walked over to the dam. We took a few pictures from the observation deck and then drove over.

It's a huge arch bridge spanning the outtake side of the dam. It's an amazing feat of engineering itself, using hollow concrete blocks to build an arch. Delaney went all the way across, loving it.

I stopped just before halfway, being a little nervous.

Quite an interesting trip.

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