Monday, January 20, 2014

Hoover Dam: photographed from the new bridge

Hoover Dam - July, 2013 - photographed by Larry Gauper - Nikon D3100
Prior to October 16, 2010, the only way to take a photograph of Hoover Dam from this angle was to do it from an aircraft. This changed when on that October date when the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge opened. One can't shoot this kind of photo from U. S. Route 93, the highway that crosses the bridge, but you can do it quite easily from the pedestrian walkway located next to the highway. The high concrete barrier that separates the walkway from the highway is the reason you can't even see the dam from a moving vehicle. And, of course, motorists are prohibited from stopping on the bridge. Click on photos for larger images.

Mike O'Callaghan-PatTillman Memorial Bridge - photograph by Larry Gauper, July, 2013 
I was standing on this bridge when I took the photo of the dam. This structure was the first concrete-arch bridge built in the United States and it incorporates the widest concrete arch in the Western Hemisphere. Situated 840 feet above the Colorado River - joining the states of Nevada and Arizona - it is the second highest bridge in the United States. Only the Royal Gorge Bridge, near Canon City, Colorado. The Callaghan-Tillman bridge is also the world's highest concrete arch bridge.

The bridge was jointly named for Mike O'Callaghan, Governor of Nevada from 1971 to 1979 and Pat Tillman, a professional football player who left his football career with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the United States Army. He was later killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire.

Pedestrian walkway on O'Callaghan-Tillman Bridge - photograph by Larry Gauper, July 2013 
This is the pedestrian walkway from where I took the photographs of the dam and bridge. To the right of the concrete barrier you'll see traffic on U. S. Route 93. Admission to the walkway is free and you can enter it from either the Nevada or Arizona visitor areas.

Nevada side intake tower - July, 2013, photograph by Larry Gauper
This photograph shows the dramatic decline in the levels of Lake Mead, the reservoir established by Hoover Dam. When I took this shot, the lake level was at 1105.92 feet above sea level. In November, 2013, the lake was at 1106.92 feet, according to the Bureau of Reclamation. When I photographed the intake towers from my son David's boat on the lake side of the dam in 2000, this intake tower - and its sister on the Arizona side - was almost covered up to where the concrete strips begin at the top of the tower. At that time the lake was at 1105 feet, 91 feet higher than what you're seeing in this photograph. At 1,000 feet, things get really bad because hydro-power stops.

When you go out to Las Vegas, I heartily recommend a visit to this "wonder of the world" civil engineering project. Walk across the new bridge and stop by the visitor center. Take the "dam tour" and go inside the dam. It's an unforgettable experience. And think of the money you're saving by not being at the machines or tables in Las Vegas!