Monday, January 2, 2012

The Hoover Dam

During my very first visit to the Hoover Dam I quickly learned that the structure is one of those things you'll see from afar and think, "Ok, so it's a big wall of concrete holding up a river," but once you go in for a close up and learn about it's history, construction, and influence on the development of the untamed landscape of the West you'll truly appreciate it's place in American history. The concept of humans having the technology to divert and control a powerful river is impressive in itself, but when reminded that this thing was built out in the middle of nowhere under the ridiculously harsh Nevada climate without the use of computers it's really amazing. It was fascinating learning about the types of workers (puddlers, scalers, etc.) and to think about how these Depression-era men were motivated to migrate out to this unforgiving landscape for the opportunity to be a part of something big.

What would it have been like to be a rural settler in the '30s out in the middle of Arizona, Nevada, California or anywhere in the Southwest really and to even hear that a massive dam was going to be built into the mighty Colorado River? And then what if they told you that very dam was going to also eventually deliver electricity to you from hundreds of miles away? Would you even believe it to be possible??

On a side note, one thing you have to get close to the Dam to appreciate is the streamlined, simple, and beautiful Art Deco details of it's architecture; from afar you wouldn't even know the designed in such a style. It's unusual because Art Deco is a look that we usually associate with the big city, so to see it out isolated in this pristine valley of vivid red rock makes for really bold contrast. There's also nice works of art and reliefs all about, including the bronze winged statues and some cool mural illustrations by John Rush.

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