50 Interesting Facts About Hoover Dam

Last updated on November 15th, 2022

36. Making the Desert Bloom

The monumental project claimed 96 lives. They included surveyors, electricians, and other workers (classified as “industrial fatalities”). A memorial on the site honors their sacrifices “to make the desert bloom.”

37. Star Map Floor

The memorial has a star map floor depicting the sky of the Northern Hemisphere at the moment President Roosevelt dedicated the dam. It is a functional map. Future astronomers can use it to calculate the date of his speech.

38. Bronze Sculptures

Oskar J. W. Hansen made 30ft-high bronze sculptures called “Winged Figures of the Republic.” Transport was tricky. They placed the artwork on ice to prevent scratches and guided them to position as they melted.

39. Artistic Themes

On the Nevada side, a bas-relief depicts the benefits of the dam: irrigation, navigation, water storage, power generation, and flood control. On the Arizona side, a similar artwork shows Indian tribes inhabiting plains and mountains.

40. Hoover Dam Bypass Project

Aerial view of Hoover Dam
Aerial view of Hoover Dam. Facts about Hoover Dam. Photo © Vanja Terzic

Nevada to Arizona? Before, you could drive atop the dam to cross state lines and enjoy the views. However, the September 11 attacks made it a security risk. Tourists also slow down the flow of traffic. Authorities built an alternative road nearby: the Hoover Dam Bypass.

Operation and Benefits

41. Power Generation Capacity

When Thomas Edison surveyed the site in 1902, he thought he could generate 7,500 kilowatts of power. Thanks to current technologies, the Hoover Dam vastly exceeded the estimate with a maximum capacity of 2,080,000 kilowatts!

42. Bombproof Powerhouse Roof

Sabotage and explosives? Not a problem. The designers already thought of that. The Hoover Dam has a bombproof powerhouse roof to shrug these off, with over a meter of concrete, steel, rock, and tar for protection.

43. Minimum Power Pool Elevation

Water level dictates power production. If you want 100% capacity, you need to fill the dam. On the other end, the original design stopped generating power at 1,050 feet. This cut-off dropped to 950 feet thanks to more efficient turbines.

44. A Self-sustaining Dam

Hoover Dam Generators
Hoover Dam Generators. Facts about Hoover Dam. Photo © Bryan Busovicki

A public burden? Not at all! The Hoover Dam is costly, but it is not draining public funds. Power generation made it profitable, paying for its 50-year construction loan and continuous maintenance.

45. Irrigation

Hoover Dam provides drinking water for over 40 million people across California, Arizona, and Nevada. Its water also irrigates more than a million acres of land. It helps farms stay productive and keeps the economy vibrant.

46. Fighting Drought

The Colorado River is drying up, and the US government is trying to save it. Authorities plan to restrict water releases from the Hoover Dam to maintain its ability to generate power. However, the stakeholders must agree on the path forward.

47. Spillways

Overflows? The spillways take care of those! Two of them run along the canyon walls and go down to diversion tunnels that empty into the river. Each has a tremendous capacity of 200,000 cubic feet per second.

48. Tourism

Curious about the Hoover Dam? Take a tour. It opened its doors in 1937, allowing people to go around the visitor center, the power plant area, or the whole facility. Guides are available to tell you about the place and answer your questions. Almost a million tourists drop by every year.

49. Historic Landmark

The Hoover Dam was the largest project of its kind in the 1930s. In 1984, it got recognition as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It is right up there with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

50. Famous Customers

The water released by the Hoover Dam travels hundreds of miles to its final destination. You can thank it for the tap water the next time you visit SeaWorld in San Diego, Disneyland in Anaheim, or other public places in these areas.

Hoover dam – quick facts and statistics

Official nameHoover dam
Coordinates36°0′56″N 114°44′16″W
Type of damconcrete gravity-arch dam
LocatedClark County, Nevada/Mohave County, Arizona, U.S
Purposepower, flood control, water storage, regulation, recreation
Owned byUnited States government
Operated by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
ImpoundsColorado River
ReservoirLake Mead (the largest reservoir in the US in terms of water capacity)
Height726.4 ft (221.4 m)
Length1,244 ft (379 m)
Volume3,250,000 cu yd (2,480,000 m3)
Built by Six Companies, Inc. (structural), Gordon Kaufmann (exteriors)
Cost$49 million
Weightmore than 6,600,000 tons.
Maximum water pressure at the base of the dam45,000 pounds per square foot.
How many men were employed during the dam's construction?21,000
Hydroelectricity generatedabout 4 billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power each year
Number of turbines installled17
Installed capacity2,080 MW
Visitors7 million tourists each year (according to the NPS)
Last updatedNovember 06, 2022