The first thing that struck me when I got to hoover dam was how much smaller it was than I expected, don’t get me wrong it’s still massive, but it looks allot bigger in the movies.
I did the full dam tour which takes you down into the plant area and then through the inside of the dam through some service tunnels. First stop was one of the massive bypass tunnel originally built to divert the river through while they built the dam. Now they are used as overflow if the river ever gets too high, or the penstock pipes to feed the generators.
Next stop, the generator room. I was surprised at how clean, clinical and empty the generator room was. All it had in it was the 8 massive generators, their corresponding switchboards a massive crane and that’s about it.
Finally the last part was through the tunnels in the dam itself. Most of the tunnels in the dam are quite ornamental, with hand-made porcelain tiles and bronze doors; from conception tourism was considered when building the dam and back in the 1930’s things were made allot more ornate. The new section added to cope with the increased numbers is literally a bare cut-out cave with nothing more than some corrugated Perspex roofing thrown up to stop the water seeping through the rock dripping on the guests; Obviously don’t care so much about looks anymore.
Then there were the service tunnels which were used after the dam was built to check for cracks and movement in the concrete. I can’t remember how often or for how long, but every inch of the walls in the tunnel were inspected and recorded for cracks and movement as the dam cured.
Overall the tour was really good and it amazes me what they were able achieve in the 1930’s.
That night was interesting. I had planned on staying on some BLM land close by, but there were some massive thunderstorms rolling in bringing with them plenty of rain and when I got to the BLM land it was pretty much a flood plane and I didn’t really want to be stuck there in the middle of torrential rain with a very heavy 2WD Van; so i continued on to Joshua tree.