Saturday, December 19, 2009

Historic Railroad Tunnels - 12/19/09

The Around the Bend Friends Hiking Club had thirty-one members on a hike through the Historic Railroad Tunnels and down to Hoover Dam today. The hike had a distance of around 7 miles with an elevation change of around 500 feet in the section from the fifth (and last) tunnel to the dam.

The hike begins at the Alan Bible Visitor Center located off of Hwy 93 in Boulder City just above the Lake Mead marina. From there, the trail leads through a gate which is closed after dark. Five tunnels which range from around 200 to 500 feet in length are arranged along the lake. There are beautiful views of the lake and benches have been placed there to accommodate those who wish to just sit and enjoy.

The tunnels were made for a short train ride from Boulder City to the Hoover Dam during the time the dam was being built. Dam workers who lived in Boulder City would take the train down into the canyon area to begin their work day.

The hikers spread out leaving those with cameras behind. It was a beautiful day and the photo ops were abundant. All we needed were a few big horn sheep to appear on the hillside! But, ... not today.

When we arrived at the dam, we realized that there were several members of the club hiking today that had never visited the dam. In fact, this was what brought many members to the hike. So, the hike coordinator decided to allow an hour break at the dam so that hikers could "visit Arizona," and the dam snack bar and gift shop.

The new bridge was hanging in its magnifi- cence up to the right. The concrete arch is finished and the highway is now being built along its support. Just as the Hoover Dam was a pioneer in civil engineering, so is its new bridge which should open by 2011.

Club members gathered at the outdoor tables to drink in the atmosphere of excited tourists. Some hikers joined in the revelry and walked across the dam to set foot in Arizona where, for a brief time, they were an hour ahead of the rest of us!

When hikers were finished with their dam visit, they climbed the dam steps or took the dam elevator to arrive back at the top floor of the dam parking garage where they began their hike up the hill and back through the tunnels to the cars. The weather had warmed up considerably and the slight wind was welcomed.

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