North America / See

[see] An Engineer’s Wet Dream: Hoover Dam

As an engineer, I have always wanted to be part of the construction team of a dam. It didn’t matter what dam project I was on, I just wanted to be on one. And still do (not much dam action here in Perth). I just feel it is one of the biggest achievements one can earn in their career because there is just so many technical aspects to constructing a dam. Not to mention the devastating consequences if something goes wrong. From killing people to total devastation of an entire area, you know, just that sort of stuff.

So that’s why Hoover Dam was on the original list of places-to-go. Also because it is conveniently located about an hour from Vegas, on the way to Grand Canyon. It would’ve been a waste not to see it.

Here are some fun facts about the Hoover Dam that may interest you. Or not. Depends if you’re as nerdy as I am.

1. It stands at 726ft (221m) high, 660ft (201m) wide at the base and 1244ft (379m) long at the top. A total of 4.3 million yards (3.3 million cubic meters) of concrete was used. That makes the mineral processing plants I’ve built on look stupid.
2. It was originally named Boulder Dam. It took 12 years after the construction for Congress to officially declare it Hoover Dam.
3. Originally budgeted at $165 million (for the entire Boulder Canyon Project) and 7 years duration, Hoover Dam was built for $49 million (~30% of the total project) and 2 years ahead of schedule (maybe because the consortium agreed to a $3,000/day penalty running over budget). Very impressive and any project manager’s dream. And mine.
4. Salaries ranged from 50c to $1.25 p/hour. These were dark times, the darkest you could get during the Great Depression.
5. An estimated 96 to 104 workers, of the 21,000 odd workers on the job, were killed during the construction of the dam. And no, none of them died being encased in concrete.
6. Bechtel is one of the world’s largest construction companies and was one of the six companies in the consortium. Till this day, the Hoover Dam is still one of Bechtel’s first megaproject, alongside others such as the Hong Kong International Airport and Bay Area Rapid Transit. I want to work for Bechtel.
7. It was listed as one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 1935, but has since been surpassed by the Panama Canal, Itaipu Dam, Netherlands North Sea Protection Works, Golden Gate Bridge, Empire State Building, CN Tower and the Channel Tunnel. All of which are very impressive engineering feats on their own.
8. The Colorado River Bridge is the first steel–concrete hybrid arch bridge in the United States and uses a 69MPa concrete strength. The highest concrete strength I’ve used is 40MPa and that’s some strong shit.

[Source: Various online sources]

We were on a deadline to get to the Grand Canyon by sunset (the least I could do after *E let me stay another day in Vegas) so I wasn’t allowed to take the tour of the dam and the power plant. Thus, this is mainly a photo essay of Hoover Dam. It truly was an engineer’s (wet) dream come true.

Here I’ve got one foot in Nevada and one foot in Arizona. I’m in 2 places at the one time!

Oh I forgot to mention I also wanted to visit Hoover Dam because they filmed the first Transformers movie here.

ZOMG!!!

Super sad to have left the bright and shining lights of Las Vegas but OMFG I'm at Hoover Dam!!!

A post shared by sc (@_scvstheworld) on

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Hoover Dam
Open 09h00 – 17h00 daily (except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day).
From Las Vegas:
Go southeast on I515 which turns into Highway 93. There is a sign at the turn off for Hoover Dam.
Dam and power plant tours can be booked via the Hoover Dam Tour Company and varies between USD $8 – $30. Parking is around USD $8.

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