Sunday, June 11, 2006

BREAKING: Dam geek realizes lifelong ambition; visits Hoover Dam

We interrupt this conference to bring you my five-hour excursion to the Hoover Dam, complete with tour of turbines, penstocks, intake towers, and diversion tunnels! Yes, I am a dam geek. For reasons too complex to go into here, I have dragged husbands all over this great country to see impounded water. Once when we drove from Maine to New Orleans (already kind of a long trip), I veered us 200 miles off course just to see the Army Corps of Engineers' Old River Control Structure at the junction of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers. I especially love it when droughts expose old road beds, turn islands into mountains, and the like. Well, today I was in luck, since Lake Mead is down 70 feet from high water (tant pis for LA, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona). Sadly for you, my camera is checked through security so I can't show you all my turbine pictures.

At the gift store, I bought a history of the dam's construction as reported at the time by Air Compression Magazine. I'm devouring every word. Stay tuned for details!!


Anonymous said...

Dam geekiness must run in the family. Didn't I ever tell you about my trip to the dam years ago? I was too late in the day to get the full tour through the dam -to my great regret. I am sooooo jealous! Mary

Alna Dem said...

Oh, now I feel bad! But I'll send you turbine pictures and lend you the construction accounts. Here, have a quote from chapter 9, "Compressed Air Plays a Part of Vital Importance in this Huge Undertaking," by Copeland Lake:

"After due investigation, [the contractors] selected Intersoll-Rand electric-driven compressors equipped with clearance-valve control. In all, eleven machines were purchased. Five of them are Class PRE-2 units, each of 26 & 16 1/4 x 18-inch size and having a piston displacement of 2,195 cubic feet per minute. The six others are the similar although smaller Type XRE-2 machines, each 20 & 12 1/2 x 14 and with a piston displacement of 1,302 cubic feet per minute. All are driven by Westinghouse synchronous motors with belted exciters...."

Alna Dam

Anonymous said...

Alna Dem, could you possibly e-mail me regarding the Maine Media and Democracy coalition I am coordinating?

We are working on net neutrality right now, and I know that is an issue that would impact you.

please reach me at

--Jon Bartholomew (former MCLF blogger)