Bluegreen Resorts’ Bluegreen Club 36 puts you near more than just gaming and nightlife in Las Vegas: The area surrounding the sparkling city opens onto stunning deserts and leads you to landmarks such as Hoover Dam in Black Canyon, only about 35 miles to the south.
Generations after its construction, Hoover Dam draws about one million annual visitors eager to explore its history and visual majesty, and its role as a major supplier of power. The largest-scale infrastructure project commenced by the federal government during the era of the Great Depression, Hoover Dam was designed as a means of harnessing the energy and irrigation potential of the Colorado River, and as a way of preventing the devastating floods prevalent in the area. Today, its 17 generators drive electrical power to 20 million people in Nevada, California, and Arizona.
United States Secretary of Commerce, afterwards President, Herbert Hoover was a driving force in facilitating construction of the dam. It was not only a marvel of engineering, but a testament to the grit and fortitude of a nation determined to surmount the obstacles of the Great Depression. Work began in 1931 and finished four years later, two years ahead of schedule. Construction workers who built the dam withstood heat that sometimes approached 120 degrees as they hung suspended 1,000 feet in the air.
A few awe-inspiring facts and figures: Hoover Dam is the tallest concrete-construction dam in the Western hemisphere. Construction required some five million barrels of concrete. The dam rises more than 700 feet high over the Colorado River, is more than 1,200 feet long and 660 feet wide at its base, and weighs as much as 18 Empire State Buildings. Every second, 1.5 million gallons of water course through its walls. The dam’s construction formed Lake Mead, still the largest reservoir in the country. At low water points, you might still see the ruins of St. Thomas, Nevada, below the surface; the town was evacuated to make way for the construction.
On your visit to Las Vegas, you can take a guided tour of Hoover Dam and its power plant. Helicopter tours offer a particularly striking view, as does the newly built Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge walkway, some 900 feet over the Colorado.