The Hoover Dam is a marvel of modern engineering, even though it is almost a century old. While many construction techniques have advanced since the 1930s, its continued operation after all these decades marks it as a real achievement of the human race. Constructed over a period of five years, the dam was completed two years ahead of schedule, even though a concrete structure of that size had never been built before, and many of its construction techniques were new and mostly unproven in their effectiveness. The fact that the site was located deep in an isolated section of the desert where the summers were dangerous to human beings certainly did not help.
The project was begun in 1931, after years of lobbying and negotiation with not on the United States Congress, but also the seven states that would be immediately be affected by the dam’s construction. The cooperation between the states was fairly unprecedented at the time, though recent advances in technology have since made large-scale interstate agreements like that far more familiar. The Hoover Dam’s location is in the Black Canyon that forms a stretch of the Colorado River. It sits squarely on the border between the states of Arizona and Nevada. Specifically, it sits on the boundary between Mohave County in Arizona and Clark County in Nevada. It impounds the Colorado River for some purposes, include flood control, hydroelectric power generation, creating an emergency store of water in case of a drought and since the 1950’s and the dawn of the Interstate Highway System, a tourist attraction, and recreational lake.
Once the river was impounded, it quickly created a lake now called Lake Mead. Though initially called the Boulder Dam, it is not actually in the Boulder Canyon, though it is quite close. It is also nearby Boulder City, Nevada, which was initially intended to accommodate the thousands of construction workers who made the project possible, which is itself located around 30 miles southeast of the city of Las Vegas, Nevada. The heavily traveled US 93 highway once ran along the crest of the dam itself, though this changed in October 2010, when a bypass known as the Hoover Dam Bypass was built to make travel down this road less difficult.
Operated by the United States Bureau of Reclamation, the coordinates of the Hoover Dam are 36,0’56 North and 114,44’16” West. This is located very near the southernmost tip of the state of Nevada and the northwestern most tip of Arizona. It is also quite close to the south end of the state of California. It brings water into the dry, arid regions of Arizona, Nevada, and California alike, which has created some controversies since the recent drying of the river. Though Lake Mead is still quite broad and profound, estimates for the dam’s future are somewhat grim if the drought continues as it has. Water rationing in Nevada and Arizona may become a necessity if the water flow from the Colorado River lessens anymore.