Hoover Dam – A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Functional Work of Art

Form follows function is an old adage from 20th century architecture. I would also say form follows beautiful function. The Hoover Dam, construction triumph of the Great Depression and President Roosevelt’s New Deal, is the epitome of this. While it is a highly functional dam and power plant, it is also a stunning work of art.

While traveling through the West, I stopped off in Boulder City, Nevada – the planned city born in the desert to house the workers who flocked to the unruly Colorado River in the 1930’s to build the dam. Today it’s a quiet oasis away from the flashy casinos of Las Vegas, a grid of low-slung bungalows and friendly restaurants within striking distance of Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam.

I am privileged to know one of the tour guides at the Hoover Dam, and she gave me an extensive behind-the-scenes tour of the dam and power plant operations. It was a rush to walk among the steady hum of the turbine generators, to watch as workers cleaned and polished an off-line generator, and to explore the tunnels through the dam and the rock of the canyon walls. Everywhere we looked little artistic details emerged in the most unlikely places, like Art Deco winks amidst the muscle and heft of the dam. Shiny metal turtle hooks for rope stanchions, Native American patterns in the power plant floors, the symmetrical futuristic design of the intake towers.

The severe drought in the West has affected the Colorado River and the water level of Lake Mead, which is starkly obvious in my photos. Keep in mind I visited in April, when spring snow melt should still be feeding the Colorado River further upstream, yet the bottom of the intake towers was visible, the bleached bathtub ring of Lake Mead double the size from when I last visited in 2010.

To view my behind-the-scenes look at the Hoover Dam, click on the link:

Hoover Dam Photos, April 2015


About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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