Home Education Hoover Dam- Introduction, Structure, Services & Visiting

Hoover Dam- Introduction, Structure, Services & Visiting

Hoover Dam’s name is considered in the historic civil engineering landmark by ASCE.

It is a concrete arch-gravity type of dam which is located at the border of Nevada and Arizona States of USA. Construction of Dam done at the black canyon of Colorado city in the year between 1931 to 1936. 

The Dam originally named Boulder Dam but later, renamed as Hoover Dam in honor of President Herbert Hoover in 1947 by a joint resolution of Congress.

So, let’s find out more information about this amazing structure in this blog.

 In this blog, You will find out –

  1. General introduction of Hoover Dam
  2. The basic concept of this Dam
  3. Structural specification
  4. Materialistic specification
  5. Services of Hoover dam
  6. Issues facing while construction
  7. Awards & Records
  8. Visiting Hoover dam
  9. Conclusion
  10. FAQ

General Introduction of Hoover Dam

hoover dam location map

It is situated near the Boulder city of Nevada which construction completed between 1931 to 1936 during the Great Depression of September 1935. This is the highest concrete dam that is never built in the past and used for flood control, domestic water supply, irrigation, and hydraulic power generation.

This Dam has the largest reservoir by volume in the United States known as Lake Mead. Its construction is done by Six Companies, Inc. which is a joint venture of Construction Company that cost $49 million at that time.

This Dam is also a famous tourist place in the U.S. where millions of people come each year and from the time of its construction highway at the crest of the dam provided way between Nevada and Arizona which is also used for visiting.

As the popularity of the dam increased traffic become a problem for the government. So, To solve this issue a 332 m long concrete bridge project started in January 2005 and in October 2010 the bridge is opened for traffic and the old road on dam crest is used for visitors.

The Basic Concept of Hoover Dam

Before the construction of the dam Colorado River is used for the irrigation by Alamo Canal which is built by William Beatty in the 1890s. That canal proved expensive for maintenance and for that the southern Pacific Railroad spent $ 3 million in 1906-07 to stabilize the waterways. But that also proved unsatisfactory.

As the technology improved, Lower Colorado was considered as a hydroelectric power potential. So, the Edition electric company of Los Angeles surveyed the river in 1902 to build a 12 m rock dam which can generate 7500 kw of power. At the same time the Bureau of Reclamation also considers the lower Colorado as a dam site.

The Reclamation Service presented a report in 1922 for the development of a dam at Colorado River for flood control and electricity generation. But, the representatives from the other part of the country consider this project as huge expensive. 

Finalizing the construction of DAM

In the year, 1927 Mississippi flood is more sympathetic towards the dam project. After a lot of controversies on December 21, 1928 President Coolidge signed the bill that authorizing the dam and $165 million allocated for the construction of Hoover Dam.

hoover dam chief engineer John Al Savage
John Al Savage (1879-1967)

The Bureau’s chief engineer John Al Savage approved the design of a massive concrete arch-gravity dam. On January 10, 1931 bid documents made by the Bureau for the interested parties. As per the bid document the government was to provide the material and contractor was to construct the dam.

But at that time not a single company capable to complete this work alone due to a lack of money and sufficient resources. So The Wattis Brother heads of Utah Construction Company with the combination of their partner Morrison-Knudsen formed a joint venture to bid the project with the other four companies. This joint venture is known as “Six Companies, Inc”.

Structural Specification

Feature of construction

hoover dam working process

Hoover Dam is a large concrete structure. It is a concrete gravity-arch type of dam built-in vertical columns of different sizes about 60 square-feet at the upstream face and 25 square-feet at downstream face. All the column joints together by a system of vertical keys and horizontal keys on radial joint and circumferential joint respectively.

At a time only 5 feet length of the block filled with concrete in 72 hours. After the settlement of concrete grout (a mixture of cement and water) was filled between the joints to make a monolithic structure.

The dam

The height of Dam is 221.4 m and length is about 379 m. The dam is 45 feet thick at the crest and 660 feet thick at base and volume of 2,480,000 m3.  

Spillways

It has two controlled drum gate with side-channel type of spillways which capacity of 11,000 m3 /s

Reservoir

The reservoir of this Dam having a total capacity of 35.200 Km3 with the catchment area about 435,000 km2 . It having a surface area of 640 Km2 and a maximum water depth of 180 m.

Power Station

Hoover-dam-power plant

Specification of the power station as given below –

Operators byU.S. Bureau of Reclamation  
Commission date1936-1960
Hydraulic head180 m (max)
TurbineFrancis type – 13 x 130 MW, 2 x 127 MW, 1 x 68.5 MW, 1 x 61.5 MW
Pelton type –  2 x 2.4 MW  
Installed capacity2080 MW
Capacity factor23%  
Annual generation4.2 TWh (15PJ)

Materialistic Specification

The main materials which were used in the Hoover dam are

  • Concrete of 4.4 million cubic yards
  • Cement of 5,000,000 barrels
  • Reinforced steel of 45,000,000 pounds
  • Gated and valves of 21,670,000 pounds
  • Steel plates and outlet pipes of 88,000,000 pounds
  • Pipe and fittings of 6,700,000 pounds
  • The structural steel of 18,000,000 pounds
  • Miscellaneous metal works of 5,300,000 pounds

Services of Hoover Dam

Water supply

Hoover Dam provides a reliable water supply for the downstream agricultural land. Besides that, the irrigated lands provide fresh vegetables and fruits for the entire nation. It also supplies water for domestic and industrial purposes to southern California and southern Nevada.

Hydroelectric power

a-typical-layout-of-a-hydropower-HP-plant-and-its-main-components

The major benefit of the Hoover dam is pollution-free and low-cost electricity generation. It has 17 giant generators with an installed capacity of 1,407,300 kW. It was the largest electricity generation hydro power plant in the world until 1949. 

Roadways

Across the dam there are two-lane roads at the top which provided crossing over the Colorado River for U.S. Route 93. In addition, a four-lane Hoover Dam Bypass constructed on arch bridge completed on October 21, 2010 which is made by the composition of steel and concrete.                            

Tourist

Every year approx. a million people take the tour of Hoover Dam. Although, due to the security reason the interior structure of the dam is inaccessible to tourists.

With all of that Hoover Dam also give other lots of benefits to the nation like –

  • Controls the flash flood and high rain off. 
  • Reducing downstream problems that were caused due to the millions of tons of sediment.
  • Improved navigation on the Colorado River below Canyon.

Media

  • As a prominent American landmark the Hoover Dam has been used in a variety of media.
  • It has featured in many movies, documentaries, video games, and many more.

Issues Facing while Construction

While the construction of Hoover Dam engineers faced a lot of problems, some of that are described below

Extreme Temperature

Summer temperature at the river was about 125 degrees F. However, The Cloudbursts, high wind and sudden floods become the big problem against the surveyors but the works running steadily ached.

Yearly Thread Flood

To archive, the purposes structure the low lying valley of Arizona and southern california had to be protected from the yearly thread of flood and the annual runoff.

Also, The reservoir created by the dam has to be large enough to store a large quantity of sediment collected downstream of the river.

Faulty Rock

As per the geological surveying there is a long fault on the rock which passes throughout the block of rock and the block was sound. That is the big challenge for engineers because Dam was rest on it.

Construction Deaths

There was a total of 112 deaths reported while the construction of the whole dam.

Environmental Issues

There is a large impact on the Colorado River Delta due to the Hoover Dam construction and change in water flow. The dam stops the natural flooding and threading to many species of plants and animals.

Award and Records

Hoover Dam is recognized as

Awardsyear
National Civil Engineering Landmark1984
National Register of Historic Place1981
National Historic Landmark1985

Visiting Hoover Dam

hoover-dam-tourist

After getting so much information about this amazing structure, everyone wants to get a tour of this. So, if you plan a trip to San Francisco, your trip is not completed without waking on this bridge.

Way to reach Hoover Dam

The dam is 30 miles away from Las Vegas and 8 miles away from Boulder city through US highway 93. You can reach there by personal vehicle or book a tour from Las Vegas.

Tours

The dam tours cover 1-1/2 miles of pathway. The power plant tour helps the visitors to know more depth information about the dam and explore it. It feels amazing to stand on top of it and realize that men built this huge structure by hand in the 1930s.

The timing of visiting the Hoover dam is 9 AM to 5 AM.

Charges

There is no charge for moving across the Hoover Dam and Colorado River but charge for parking and visitor center.

  • Vehicle parking charge-  $10
  • Visitor center charge- $10 per person
  • Power plant tour charge- $12-15 per person 30 minutes.

Conclusion

In the conclusion we can say that this dam is one of the marvels structure in the history of civil engineering. That’s why it is included in the national civil engineering landmark.

Like all other dam it also generates huge amount of electricity and supply water to cities but with that it become most famous visiting place. Therefore, it features in many movies and biographies.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much electricity generated by the hoover dam?

It generates about 4 billion kWh hydroelectricity per year.

2. How much far Hoover dam from Las Vegas?

It is approximately 33 miles or 45 minutes away from Las Vegas.

3. Which type of dam id Hoover Dam?

It is a concrete arch-gravity type in which the water load is carried by both gravity action and horizontal arch action.

4. How much tourist comes at Hoover dam?

Approx. 1 million visitors come every year to visit Hoover Dam.

5. What is the height of Hoover Dam?

It’s height is about 221.4 meter with the length of 379 meter.

Civil Engineer | Building Planner | Content Writer | Freelancer
Hello there,
I am Passionate of planning and designing of buildings. Skilled in AutoCAD, Revit, 3d Max and Etabs.
With that I also like to writing blogs and content.

Mahendra
Civil Engineer | Building Planner | Content Writer | Freelancer Hello there, I am Passionate of planning and designing of buildings. Skilled in AutoCAD, Revit, 3d Max and Etabs. With that I also like to writing blogs and content.
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