The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Bridge over the Colorado River is my bridge; it is a the Arizona I love: big, bold and totally amazing.
It cost $240 million, took the efforts of 1200 workers and 300 engineers to build and when it opened in 2013, was the 7th highest bridge and the longest arch in the Western Hemisphere. Crossing it you really have no sense of it’s beauty or its power. Its’ high cement sides keep vacationers from stopping enroute to take in the amazing views. To see the bridge you have to go the Nevada side and take the old highway down to the top of the dam. Park and you can see the true strength of the bridge and walk across on a specially build walkway on the dam side of the bridge.
The bridge is part 2 of the Hoover Dam complex. It completes an equally amazing engineering feat. Both the bridge and the dam were built during depression/recession’s and became beacons of hope for discouraged people. The Hoover, the nations’ largest dam, one of the seven modern engineering wonders of the world, was completed in less than 5 years. When it opened in 1933, the Colorado River was described in Fortune Magazine as a “turid stream in a towering furnace of stone.” The man who first dreamed about the dam was Arthur Powell Davis, in 1902. He worked for the Federal Department of Reclamation and was a nephew of John Wesley Powell who made the historic boat trip down the Colorado in the late 1800’s. The dam was buried in controversy for 30 years. When it was finally approved, John got to come back and see construction started. He died two months later.
(Dog lovers: read the wonderful yet sad story of the Mascot of the Dam on the Reclamation website. You’ll be glad you did.)