The Hoover Dam is famous for its huge scale. It soars to a height of 726 feet and stretches to a base width of 660 feet. Its enormous size allows it to hold back 28 million acre-feet of water in Lake Mead---the reservoir created by the dam, and the largest artificial reservoir in America.
Construction of the dam began in 1931 and was finished in 1936, during the Great Depression. The project was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal," bringing in 5000 men and their families desperate for employment in the midst of the economic meltdown. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation built it to help control the erratic flow of the Colorado River, in order to protect and enhance crop yields and structures along the waterway. Extra water would also be used to create electricity.
The Hoover Dam has been celebrated as a marvel of modern engineering, and was recognized as one of the seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders of the United States in 1955. It has also been recognized as a National Historic Landmark and part of the 20th century's Top Ten Construction Achievements.
The Bureau of Reclamation provides tours through the dam and its power plant, claiming to bring in around one million visitors annually. It is also possible for tourists to drive across the dam.
Kayaks and canoes can set out from a launch site located below the dam, to venture down the Colorado River. All watercraft must be approved through the Bureau of Reclamation. As of 2010, the launch fee was $12 per person, on top of a $3 entrance fee for visitors ages 16 and over.