Hold back the river
Today we are visiting one of the man-made wonders of the world, The Hoover Dam in Boulder City.
We pack up and leaving Williams behind we head for Ash Fork which used to be a town on Route 66. The town grew up around the mining for flagstone which is exported round the world (you may have some in your garden as a patio). This town is very much a town of the past. Once the railway was moved 10 miles away the town began to shrink. Unbelievably there was no water supply here until the 1970's, all the water had to be trucked in!!
We follow the Mother Road through the sleepy town, stopping to view the marker for the old rail crossing, before reaching the end of the road. A sign announces that the road is not maintained beyond this point. You are able to pick the road up in other places but it is patchy. The motel sitting next to this junction looks tired although it is still open for business.
We make the decision to drive on the Interstate until we reach Kingman where we will turn north to Boulder City. The landscape is changing again as we first ascend mountains and then descend into a rocky desert. I suddenly see what looks like a tornado, although I don't really think it is. The wind is whipping up a circle of dust north of the road. We see a few of these over the next few miles.
Kingman is a relatively large town which celebrates it's connection to the old Route 66. There are a clutch of motels, restaurants, diners and a museum. It is popular with Route 66 buffs and appears to be thriving; busy with activity. From here we turn north continuing across the Mohave desert to the Hoover Dam.
We cross the Colorado River on an arch bridge which is long and high. People are walking across but Mark doesn't fancy it. It is really windy and a little scary driving down towards the dam. We park and walk down to explore the dam and Lake Mead (formed by the dam). This is a wonderful piece of engineering, built in the 1930's. At 726 feet high it is very impressive and straddles the Arizona/Nevada border.
We walk around the the dam, which is quite difficult at times as it is extremely windy.Lake Mead is beautiful and huge; 110 miles long and with a 550 miles shoreline. We are able to see where the water line is on the sides of the lake. This is where the water will be in the spring when the Colorado is swollen by the melting of winter snows. It looks quite low at the moment, but still manages to supply the whole of Nevada, Arizona and Southern California with electricity.
The Monument Plaza and Winged Figures were built in 1937 in the Art Deco style (my favorite) to celebrate the engineering embodied by the dam and to commemorate those who lost their lives during its construction. The plaza features two 30-foot-tall bronze Winged Figures, a flagpole and a terrestrial compass with twelve bronze plaques, each representing a sign of the zodiac.
On returning to the car park we come across the Dam High Scaler Monument. This is a relatively modern sculpture which was installed in 1998. This sculpture of a man scaling a rock wall represents a "high scaler." In the 1930s, fearless workers would dangle hundreds of feet in the air, armed with jackhammers to loosen rocks and dynamite to blast away at the canyon walls. Lots of men died including a father and son who died on the same day, fourteen years apart!
We drive to the Lake mead lookout, which shows the recreational aspects of the Lake. There are boats and beaches where people are enjoying the sun and the wind (good for sailing). Marcus spies a water skier whizzing across the lake. This is one of the benefits of building the dam.
Boulder City is only a short drive from Hoover Dam. What a lovely town it proves to be. It reminds us of the Spanish holidays we have had in Murcia. Today the town is holding a car show. What fun, a real carnival atmosphere with food, drink, entertainment and stalls on offer. There are vintage and specialist cars, vans and motor cycles. We while away some time admiring the vehicles and watching the entertainment.
On booking into the hotel Mark has a swim and I go to the launderette (clothes need washing unfortunately). I peruse the information on Las Vegas which is provided in the reception.
Diner is at a local Italian. It's bustling which we hope means it is good. It proves to be really tasty dishes. I have lasagne and Mark and Marcus have Calzone pizzas which are very different to what would be served at home. Mark's looks like a large sausage roll and Marcus' (called a Panzerotti) is deep fried. They both say they are excellent and the meal is enjoyed by all of us (it was really cheap too, which made it even better).