Originally known as Boulder Dam, this manmade barrier stands at a whopping 726ft tall. Separating the largest reservoir in the United States, Lake Mead, from the crystal-clear Colorado River. Hoover Dam generates electricity for California, Nevada, and Arizona. This major tourist attraction sees over 1 million visitors each year. Surprisingly many spectators are unaware of the rich history this great structure holds.
After more than 20 years of exploring potential locations for the dam, Congress finally authorized construction in 1928. In 1931, a consortium called Six Companies submitted the winning bid the winning; with little time to spare, they got right to work.
With unsafe working conditions and record-breaking heat, there were an estimated 100 deaths recorded during the five years of construction. The high scalers performed some of the most hazardous and gut-wrenching work that was done during this time. These fearless men would dangle from rock walls and remove loose and brittle debris to ensure that the dam would rest on only the most reliable portions of the canyon.
People from all around the country talked about the bravery of the high scalers, which drew many to the construction site in hopes of witnessing their death-defying acts. One of the most well-known cases of bravery and heroism comes from Oliver Cowan. He courageously snatched his supervisor from the air as he was falling to his death. Let’s all hope that man received a raise!
Eighty years later, visitors and wildlife and still benefiting from the remarkable efforts of laborers so many years ago. Due to the great success of the dam and the preservation of the land, local wildlife can live freely and comfortably with a safe distance between them and spectators. Visitors often see thirsty bighorn sheep trekking down the high mountainside to hydrate in the cold river just south of the dam. If you venture off the beaten path a bit, be careful because the land surrounding Hoover Dam is home to more than 2,000 mountain lions and four different types of venomous snakes.
Aside from the amazing wildlife, many outdoor adventure companies offer incredible tours that allow their guests to view the dam from the base point. The south side of Hoover Dam is where kayaks, canoes, and boats launch for daily excursions. If you ever find yourself in the area, be sure to join one of the many river tours via watercraft, or stop by the Hoover Dam visitors center to learn more about its rich history and aid in developing a thriving city just miles away.