Sunday 26 May 2019

The *other* Hoover Dam

Back in 2014 Famille L did a road trip around some of the northern states around Lake Erie - we were there for my grandmother's 90th birthday, what we me being part 'murcun 'n'all. Just outside Columbus Ohio, as we headed up towards Cleveland, we saw signs for the Hoover Dam. Wow! This is one of the modern wonders of the world, a must see! We immediately decided to divert, this was unmissable, what a stroke of luck!

A short while later we arrived at a small lake with a decidedly unimpressive dam at one end. There were a few joggers, a couple of cyclists and a nesting Killdeer.  We had a bit of a wander, kicked a few stones, and wondered which fool had decided to list this pathetic construction as one of the pinnacles of human engineering achievement. Later that evening we discovered that there were two Hoover Dams.....

For obvious reasons I never wrote a blog post about Ohio’s Hoover Dam, but fast forward nearly five years later, this blog is somehow still alive, and now I have a chance to write about the actual Hoover Dam, which sits on the border of Arizona and Nevada, and was conveniently on the route that Henry and I were taking back to Las Vegas. We may therefore be in a select group of people who have visited both Hoover Dams. Seen one dam, seen them all?

As these photos hopefully show, no. Not by a long shot. The real Hoover Dam is incredible in a way that the Columbus one really isn’t. In fact I would go as far as to say it was breathtaking. Magnificent in a totally different way from the natural wonders that we had seen over the previous few days, it had that same capacity to make you feel really really small. The ingenuity of man, so destructive but yet so so clever. It was built over the course of five years starting in 1931, and at that time was one of the most incredible man-made structures on earth. It probably still is. It is a tourist attraction in its own right so we were able to visit both the road bridge that overlooks the dam, notable for the number of lost baseball caps on the canyon walls, and then the roadway atop the dam. It was scarily high, very windy, and eerily silent and enormous – we both felt extremely exposed. Nonetheless, certain things have to be done....

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