Story and photo by Rick Moore
Nine decades ago it would have been hard to imagine that Boulder City, Nevada, southeast of Las Vegas, would one day be a tourist destination in its own right. In the early 1930s it was a U.S. government “company town,” where thousands of men, in the most brutal and dangerous of desert conditions, built Hoover Dam to harness the power of the Colorado River and provide electricity and water to the growing Southwest.
Hoover Dam, of course, is today a major tourist attraction, on the border of Nevada and Arizona and an entrance to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, where millions of visitors fish, boat and hike each year. The area’s rocky terrain is home to thousands of desert bighorn sheep, a favorite subject of photographers.
Golf, skydiving, BMX racing and more are enjoyed by both tourists and locals from Vegas who drive to Boulder City.
Today, Boulder City is a thriving city of 15,000, where unique merchants and businesses line the streets of the town’s Downtown Historic District. A variety of unusual shops, one-of-a-kind sculptures, live music and colorful landscaping uncommon in a desert environment make the city a favorite of not only lake-goers, but of people who are passing through on their way to Vegas.
Tourists looking for a slot machine have to move further on up Highway 93, as Boulder City is one of only two cities in Nevada that prohibits gambling, the other being the town of Panaca.