First Visit to Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

My first visit to Hoover Dam, and it’s incredible to see both how big the dam is and how low the water level is behind the dam. In December of 2021, the water elevation of Lake Mead was 1,065 feet above sea level – almost 200 feet lower than its maximum level, and the lowest level since the 1930s, when the lake basin was still being filled.

lake Mead behind Hoover Dam
Low water level at Lake Mead.
The Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, completed in 2010, is the second-highest bridge in the United States. You can walk across it for a great view of Hoover Dam.
The view from the O’Callaghan-Tillman bridge.

Vanished Springs and Wells of New York City

Around the turn of the last century, James Reuel Smith documented and photographed the natural springs and wells of New York City. Why? Well, he was born into a wealthy family and was clearly interested in fresh water.

Most were in the northern part of the city where there was less development and drinking water piped in through the Croton Aqueduct was not as readily available. Smith rode his bike to these locations, and that’s presumably his ride in the photo below, taken in 1897. His kit includes a couple of leather bags attached to the bike frame as well as a rear rack, perhaps used to hold his camera. You can see a communal tin cup hanging on a branch of the tree growing next to the spring, as well as the flat rocks laid around the spring opening.

Gun Hill Spring on Mosholu Parkway near Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, New York City, September 15, 1897. James Reuel Smith Springs and Wells Photograph Collection, 1893-1902, New York Historical Society.
Well located at W. 188th Street and Webb Avenue, 400 feet east of Sedgwick Avenue and south of Webb Academy, Bronx, New York City, October 3, 1897. James Reuel Smith Springs and Wells Photograph Collection, 1893-1902, New York Historical Society.

Smith’s interest in water sources was not limited to New York. In 1922 he published Springs and Wells in Greek and Roman Literature, their Legends and Locations. Springs and Wells of Manhattan and the Bronx: New York City at the End of the Nineteenth Century was published posthumously in 1938.

E-Biking the Forbidden Drive

As in, you are forbidden to drive a car on it, but you can bike, walk, or ride a horse on it. The former Wissahickon Turnpike, the main drag through Wissahickon Valley Park in Philadelphia, was built in the 1820s and got its current name in the 1920s when it was closed to vehicles.

Wissahickon Creek. Source: TCM

On a pleasantly cool weekend morning there were a lot of people in the park, meaning we had to drive around a bit before finding a parking spot. The gravel path is wide and the people spread out so it was a leisurely 8 mile ride.

Some nice Parkitecture in Wissahickon. Source: TCM
Philly’s first public drinking fountain, built 1854 and shut down in 1957 due to water pollution. Source: TCM