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Henderson, Nevada To Williams, Arizona By Way Of Some Great Places

Love’s Truck Stop

Williams, Arizona

November 28, 2020

Today was Moving Day as I started back to Boulder, Colorado. But first I headed south from Henderson, Nevada to see the Hoover Dam.

On the way there was Boulder City. On a hunch that it might be worth seeing, I exited off the road to the dam and drive into Boulder City. Wow. What a charming little town that is very proud of its heritage. That heritage started with the building of the dam as many workers set up home here while building the dam.

Here are some of the photos I took:

Unfortunately I was too early for lunch.

This appeared to be the place to get breakfast.

Love the bright colors. Every town needs a mural, right?

Sign demonstrates the town’s link to its past.

Love the name.

I have no idea why.

I also cannot explain these figures, but they did make me smile.

I continued on my mission from God to the Hoover Dam which was only a few minutes away.

I'll note that when I got there I found out it costs $10 to park. Outraged, I looked for options. Turns out if you drive over the dam and go up the hill a bit, they figure if you are that desperate, you can park for free. They don’t call me Parsimonious Lucian for no reason!

The site of the dam is quite impressive. It has a feature that Glen Canyon didn’t have; you can get up close to it. It’s almost as it were built with the idea that it would be the tourist attraction it is. I arrived at around 9 am and there was no wait at the security checkpoint. By 10:30 when I left, there was a line of a couple of hundred cars.

Three features of the site stood out to me. First, the four towers are the intakes for the powerhouse; that’s an unusual feature. Second, perpendicular to the dam on either side (on the reservoir side), there are overflow structures in the case of high water. The high water basically “leaks out” of Lake Mead and bypasses the powerhouse and flows through tunnels (one on each side) to the downstream side of the dam. Third, the state line between Nevada and Arizona runs down the middle of the dam (perpendicular to it). That means the Arizona side is an hour behind the Nevada side during the non-daylight savings time. Most of Arizona does not use daylight savings.

Here’s a slideshow of my photos from walking around the site.

I left Hoover Dam and took US 95 south. There were quite a number of electricity transmission lines in the valley. I assume they are because the output from Hoover is sold in Arizona, Nevada and California? I haven’t been able to find an answer through Google searches.

Along US 95 I came across two towns (and that’s about all - Nevada can be desolate) — Searchlight and Cal-Nev-Ari.

Searchlight is an unincorporated town and census-designated place (CDP) in Clark County, Nevada, United States, at the topographic saddle between two mountain ranges. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 539.

According to former U.S. Senator Harry Reid, who has written extensively about his hometown, the most likely story as to how the town received its name was that when George Frederick Colton was looking for gold in the area on May 6, 1897, he supposedly said that it would take a searchlight to find gold ore there. Shortly thereafter he found gold, leading to a boom era when Searchlight had a larger population than Las Vegas. At the time, it was in Lincoln County, Nevada. As talk surfaced for carving Clark County, Nevada out of Lincoln County, Searchlight was initially considered to be the county seat. Between 1907 and 1910 the gold mines produced $7 million in gold and other precious minerals, and the town had a population of about 1,500. The ore was shipped to Barnwell via the Barnwell and Searchlight Railway.

Other stories on the origin of the name include a story that Colton was lighting a Searchlight brand match when he discovered the gold ore. Reid dismisses this story, saying that the Searchlight matches were not available in 1898. Yet another story says that Colton thought the area would be a good place because it was on a hill. Colton's mine was called the Duplex, because the gold ore was found on two levels.

Searchlight declined after 1917 but hung on as a stop on the Arrowhead Highway. In 1927, U.S. Route 91 bypassed the town and its population dropped to 50.

The town had a resurgence in the 1930s and 1940s with the construction of nearby Hoover Dam and was home to the El Rey Bordello in the 1940s and early 1950s until it burned. The last gold mine ceased operating around 1953.

Note: Interesting that Harry Reid is from such a small town as is Lindsay Graham (Central, South Carolina). I am sure sure other notable politicians are from very small towns but I find it interesting that these people found their way to such "prominence."

Cal-Nev-Ari is a census-designated place on U.S. Route 95 in Clark County, Nevada, United States, near the state's southernmost point. As of the 2010 census, the town had a population of 244. The town's name is a syllabic abbreviation of California, Nevada and Arizona.

Cal-Nev-Ari was created in the mid-1960s by Nancy and Slim Kidwell, who acquired a 640-acre section of land from the U.S. government and commenced development of an airport-based community an hour by road from Las Vegas. In addition to the FAA-designated Kidwell Airport, the community has grown over the years to include a casino, motel, RV and mobile home parks, convenience market, and over 100 residential lots.

The town was listed for sale in 2016 for $8 million although it had been originally listed in 2010 for $17 million.

Note: Most of the homes in this town appear to be mobile homes. The idea of an airport in the middle of town seems crazy.

After I headed south a bit longer, I took a left-hand turn and headed toward Arizona. But I wasn't quite done with Nevada yet.

As I descended along NV 193 toward the Arizona border, I saw a number of tall buildings which turned out to be Laughlin, Nevada. Laughlin is just across the Colorado River from Arizona and there are a number of casinos there for those who can't wait to loose their money in Las Vegas.

Laughlin is an unincorporated town and census-designated place in Clark County, Nevada, It is located on the Colorado River, directly across from the much larger Bullhead City, Arizona. Laughlin lies 90 miles south of Las Vegas, in the far southern tip of Nevada, and is known for its gaming and water recreation. As of the 2010 census, the population was 7,323. The nearby communities of Bullhead City, Arizona; Needles, California; Fort Mohave, Arizona; and Mohave Valley, Arizona, bring the area's total population to about 100,000. Laughlin is also 286 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

Laughlin was named for Don Laughlin, an Owatonna, Minnesota native who purchased the southern tip of Nevada in 1964 (informally called South Pointe). At the time, Don Laughlin operated the 101 Club in Las Vegas. He opened what would become the Riverside Resort, and later wanted to call the community Riverside or Casino, but the post office opted for Laughlin instead.

The southernmost tip of Nevada, along the Colorado River, where Nevada, California, and Arizona meet, has become a major national tourist destination and gambling resort within the last few decades. The townsite of Laughlin was established in the 1940s as South Pointe because of the proximity to the southern tip of the state of Nevada. The early town consisted of a motel and bar that catered to gold and silver miners, construction workers building Davis Dam, and fishing enthusiasts. In the 1950s, construction workers left, and the town all but disappeared.

In 1964, Don Laughlin, owner of the 101 Club in Las Vegas, flew over the site and saw its tourism potential. He offered to buy the land, and within a few years, the small motel and casino, consisting of only 12 slots and two live tables, was bustling. In 1966, the Riverside Resort built the first 14-floor high-rise; in 1972, 48 rooms were added, followed by several additions. A second casino, the Bobcat Club, opened in 1967, where the Golden Nugget Laughlin currently operates. In 1968, a third casino, the Monte Carlo, opened its doors. Across the river, Bullhead City, Arizona, sat in the glow of the casino light. Shuttle boats transported customers from the Arizona side of the river to Laughlin's resorts and back.

The 1980s saw the construction of several more hotels and casinos. The Colorado Hotel (now the Pioneer), The Regency, Sam's Town Gold River (now the Laughlin River Lodge), and The Edgewater opened in the early 1980s. Other investors saw the growth as an opportunity to get in on the action. A second boom resulted in the construction of The Colorado Belle, Harrah's Del Rio, and The Ramada Express (now The Tropicana Express). In 1987, Don Laughlin funded and built the Laughlin Bridge at a cost of $3.5 million. He donated the bridge to the states of Nevada and Arizona. The bridge carries 30,000 vehicles daily. In 1988, a megaresort called the Emerald Resort, that would have been the biggest in southern Nevada, was announced but its first tower was left unfinished due to the junk bond market's collapse in 1990. Only the project's golf course opened and it operated from 1991 to 2005. The Flamingo Hilton, now known as The Aquarius, was built in 1990.

Today there are nine hotel/casinos and one motel in Laughlin providing over 10,000 rooms, 154,000 square feet of meeting space, 60 restaurants, two museums, a 34-lane bowling center, and a variety of boutiques, spas, and salons. More than 14,000 casino workers now cross the Colorado by shuttle boat or the Laughlin Bridge each day. Laughlin currently attracts less than 2 million visitors annually who visit to gamble, enjoy water sports on the Colorado River, or attend many high-profile special events hosted by the community.

Just upstream from Laughlin is Lake Mohave which is yet another body of water created by damming the Colorado River.

Lake Mohave is a reservoir on the Colorado River between the Hoover Dam and Davis Dam in Cottonwood Valley defining the border between Nevada and Arizona in the United States. This 67 mile stretch of the Colorado River flows past Boulder City, Nelson, Searchlight, Cottonwood Cove, Cal-Nev-Ari, and Laughlin to the west in Nevada and Willow Beach and Bullhead City to the east in Arizona. A maximum width of 4 miles wide and an elevation of 647 feet, Lake Mohave encompasses 28,260 acres of water. As Lake Mead lies to the north of the Hoover Dam, Lake Mohave and adjacent lands forming its shoreline are part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area administered by the U.S. National Park Service.

Davis Dam is a dam is 70 miles downstream from Hoover Dam. It stretches across the border between Arizona and Nevada. Originally called Bullhead Dam, Davis Dam was renamed after Arthur Powell Davis, who was the director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1914 to 1923. The United States Bureau of Reclamation owns and operates the dam, which was completed in 1951.

Davis Dam is a zoned earth-fill dam with a concrete spillway, 1,600 ft (490 m) in length at the crest, and 200 ft (61 m) high. The earth fill dam begins on the Nevada side, but it does not extend to the Arizona side on the east. Instead, there is an inlet formed by earth and concrete, that includes the spillway. The hydroelectric power plant is beside the inlet.

The dam's purpose is to re-regulate releases from Hoover Dam upstream, and facilitate the delivery of Colorado River water to Mexico. Bullhead City, Arizona, and Laughlin, Nevada, are located just below the dam along the river. Davis Camp is also nearby. Bullhead City was originally a construction town for workers building the dam.

A road is located on the crest of the earth fill portion of the dam and a Forebay Bridge spans the Forebay. It was formerly part of Arizona State Route 68 to Nevada. In April 2004, the roadway was shut down to vehicle traffic. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic are permitted. The old roadway is now an extension of the Heritage Trail system. Barriers have been placed on the former road at each end of the earthen dam. The facility is heavily patrolled by security forces who strictly enforce parking regulations.

Davis Dam Hydroelectric Power Plant

The Davis Dam Power Plant is a hydroelectric power plant located on the Arizona side of the dam, beside the inlet. The hydroelectric plant generates between 1 and 2 terawatt-hours of electricity annually. The plant has a capacity of 251 MW and the tops of its five Francis turbines are visible from outside the plant. The plant's head is 136 feet.

Look how clear the water is. Naturally the water would be muddy but the dams remove the silt. Beautiful but not natural.

Love power plants. The Colorado River Basin has approximately 4,200 MW of hydroelectric capacity. For comparison, a big nuclear plant is approximately 1,100 MW. While I managed three hydro plants in my career, none of them were as big as the ones on the Colorado.

Wild. I am sure there is a better term for these "moguls" leading to the water. I thought they were so cool.

Next stop - Kingman, Arizona where I found this street sign that made me want to get a pencil-thin mustache.

And then I got very lucky. I exited I-40 and got onto Historic Route 66. The sun was beginning to set and I found myself driving through areas of grass that were being turned golden by the sun. I get goosebumps now even thinking about it. It was almost as beautiful as a sister golden hair I used to know. Enjoy.

Whew - it was quite a day!

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