Second Battle of Hoover Dam

It was not intended for war – its top sides are bound to two intake towers by a series of bridges. No doubt snipers nest there. On the far side of the dam, a small building provides access to the power plant below. That is where Oliver hides.

Legate Lanius

The amazing and majestic Hoover Dam can not possibly be done justice by any of my photos or words, but I will try!

This entry has too many photos, but I can’t help it. Every time I come here, I take more and I think they are all so cool that I add more and more each time. Sorry in advance for the overkill.


# 118 – Hoover Dam
# 207 / 364 – Hoover Dam visitor center / Oliver’s compound
# 208 / 443-446 – Hoover Dam power plants 1-4
# 258 – Arizona Spillway 
# 267 – Hoover Dam checkpoint
# 268 – Hoover Dam intake tower
# 269 / 312 – Hoover Dam lower level / offices
# 329 – Hoover Dam towers

Location Details

# 267 – Hoover Dam checkpoint – In the game, the checkpoint is a sort of end game barrier. In real life, there is a checkpoint before you get to the dam, as a security measure. I always arrive around dawn to be the only person in line and the security people are always very nice.

# 118 – Hoover Dam – The Hoover Dam in our world is a real place, a massive concrete dam spanning the width of the Colorado River, on the border between the states of Nevada and Arizona. It is almost identical to the in game equivalent. The comparison is spot on and the location is incredible.

Even the road you take to get to the Hoover Dam looks the same, with the same two curves snaking down into the canyon and all the substations.

The main wall face of the dam looks the same, although it faces south, so Lanius threatening to nail me to it so I could face west is impossible. That is what you get for trying to be cool. The towers are the same as well as the little notched look out points dotting the top edge of the dam.

At the bottom, I saw many similarities as well, including the buildings, towers, and scaffolding. Especially in the photos below, where I noticed the two extensions on the left side of the building reflected in the in game equivalent.

And this little building built into the ledge.

I noticed the pontoon barrier exists in both the real world and in game.

The walkway on top of the dam has a covered area in both the game and the real world, on the front side facing south.

And these little sections that I could walk out on. In the game, they have safety fences on them. Not in our world, though! Seems as if the game’s Hoover Dam is safer than our own, so use caution.

One of the first distinctive landmarks at the Hoover Dam are these statues, called the “Winged Figures of the Republic” which were created by Oskar J.W. Hansen. They are nearly identical in game, including the flagpole and inscription between them. In game you can not read the inscription, but in real life it is legible.

And the Art Deco style is evident throughout in all the little details.

I even saw that the maps around in game are true to form, the real blueprints being held at UNLV. And there were similar maps in the visitor center.

Interestingly, I also found a map and a newspaper article called Latest Primm News, which I had not seen before.

# 207 – Hoover Dam visitor center / Oliver’s compound – The visitor center is in the same place, although it is fancier in our world with windows and a copper roof. Lanius describes the little building that leads down to the power plant is where Oliver is, and that elevator can be found here. You will take it down if you go on the powerplant tour.

Pro tip – The entrance to the visitor center is not at ground level, but one level below, accessible by a huge flight of stairs and escalator. There is going to be a massive line going down these stairs / escalator from the Nevada-side parking ramp, even at 9:00 AM when the doors open. If you take the elevator that is located right in front of the visitor center at ground level, it is a shortcut. It will spit you out right at the main entrance, where you can blend yourself into the hoard of people and not have to wait in the ridiculously long line. Of course give the right of way to those who are in need of the elevator and not just lazy. Also the elevator is air conditioned.

The first time I came here, I was told that the visitor center underwent renovations to remodel the entrance and fix the elevators. They said the entrance used to be very “dark and cave like” which is exactly how it looks in game. But I wanted dark and cave like! Similar to the sign in Nipton, I suppose I will have to accept that some things will be changed from the time the inspirations for the game were developed.

I could still see some very distinctive similarities though, despite a decade’s passing.

The floor in the visitor center in game is a distinctive speckle pattern, and I think this is intentional. Further in the dam, you will start seeing the same distinctive floor pattern. The terrazzo floors are exceptionally unique, commissioned and completed by Denver artist Allen True, they feature Southwestern Indian designs which subtly compliment the Art Deco theme. And these floors are located in the power plant and maintenance hallways, not somewhere they planned for tourists to normally be. Your tour guide might mention that a power plant would never have such attention to detail now, especially not for the modern-day equivalent of $20 per square foot. Two Italian immigrant brothers, Joseph and John Martina, installed the terrazzo floors with their crew in 1937 at the cost of $0.48 cents per square foot.

# 208 / 443-446 – Hoover Dam power plants 1-4 – I have been to the Hoover Dam countless times, but I have only taken each tour once. There are three choices. To even get in the door of the visitor’s center, it costs $10. I mean, you can enter the door and take a few photos, but your photos will only be of a ton of people mashing into the entrance turnstiles. To walk around and go to the observation deck, you have to pay the $10. I think it is worth it for some cool views and access to the museum. And in the summer it is 10000% percent worth it, as it has glorious air conditioning.

Past that, there are two tours, the powerplant tour for $15 or the full tour for $30. I highly recommend the cheaper one. They are almost exactly the same. The more expensive one includes going through the inspection tunnels, but they don’t look any different than the tunnels you walk through getting to and from the places you go in the powerplant tour. Save some NCR dollars and do the $15 one. And make sure to only buy your tickets through the Bureau of Reclamation site, which also shows you when the tours will be closed or any maintenance that may impact your trip.

On the tour, you will see various parts of the dam’s inner workings. I was able to see that the developers must have taken this same tour, given how accurate the game’s depiction is – especially the turbine rooms. In the real world, throughout the 2 power plants (or “wings”), there are 17 main turbines total – 8 on the Nevada side and 9 on the Arizona side – whereas in game throughout 4 power plants, there are only 8 turbines.

Just remember to brace yourself once again for relentless “dam” jokes from both the guides and the other visitors. As a not-so-humble brag, I was the only person who got all (or any) of the tour guide’s trivia questions correct.

Oh wait, the game does this as well. You can not escape.

Kind of hard to see, but a huge find for me, was the letters on the old machinery “N1, N2” – the same as on the walls underneath the turbines in game. How cool is that?!

# 58 – Arizona Spillway  – I was impressed that the in game Hoover Dam even included the spillways, which are two sections that prevent water from spilling over the top of the dam in case of flooding. The game’s rendition is incredibly accurate, from the curve of the wall to each top structure matching.

The Arizona Spillway is immediately to the left when driving from the Nevada side, probably a leisurely ten minute walk from the visitor center. In the real world, it is roughly about where the checkpoint shack would be. I read that a major NCR / Legion battle was fought here before the events of the game took place, which in real life would have just been another battle for Hoover Dam, as the Arizona Spillway is part of the dam. Perhaps in the game, the Arizona Spillway was located farther away. But maybe not, as if you use the console to go through the checkpoint and then hang a right past the spillway, only a few gates separate you from the Legate camp’s front doorstep. Since it is a cut location, developers likely had more planned for this area.

# 329 – Hoover Dam towers – In game, there are 3 of 4 towers still standing. You can see the real life towers opposite the intake towers – the towers are on the south side of the dam, where the dam face is, and the intake towers are on the north side of the dam, emerging from Lake Mead. All four are still standing in our world, despite the photo with only three showing below. Plus in the real world, they also have stairs leading to bathrooms inside!

# 268 – Hoover Dam intake tower – There are four intake towers in both our world and the game. They look the same and are in the same locations. Unfortunately I could not go inside in real life and mess around aimlessly due to a chain link fence. Two of the towers are on the Nevada side and two are on the Arizona side. A state line plaque is in the middle, on the walkway.

The game and real life towers both have clocks on the front. The state of Arizona does not participate in daylight savings time, so from March to November, Nevada’s time will be one hour ahead of Arizona, and from November to March, they will show the same time.

# 269 / 312 – Hoover Dam lower level / offices – On the tour of the dam, I got to crawl through all sorts of nooks and crannies. There were many levels and corridors, rooms and hallways – just like in the game. I remember distinctly not being able to find my way out of the dam in game on more than one occasion (especially those daaaaam power plants, but for real) and maybe the developers had this same experience as me in real life.

Another notable thing I spotted was this tiny “fallout shelter” sign. I knew that Hoover Dam was the location of a real-world shelter in the 50s, so this was exceptionally exciting for me. I was amazed I spotted it, look how tiny it is, and almost on the ceiling.

And in true, New Vegas fashion, the entire time you are walking down in the corridors, above your head you will see sheets of corrugated metal hanging in ramshackle arrangements. I asked the tour guide about it and he said it was to keep water from dripping on people, leading it on to the walls and to the drains instead. He said whenever a piece of metal wears away, they just plaster a new one up there, which accounts for the jury rigged appearance. I told him I liked it.

Honorable mention – A big difference I did notice is that the O’Callaghan – Tillman Memorial Bridge opposite the Hoover Dam is missing in the game. But this makes sense, it is not missing, it was not completed until after the video game was released. The Hoover Dam was also not named “Hoover” until around the Divergence, before that it was Boulder Dam.

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