Hoover Dam Machine Gun Bunker

Interestingly, many repeat visitors to the Hoover Dam never noticed a World War II relic. Who knew —right?

Have you heard the saying: “If it had been a snake it would bitten me.” If you were a Japanese or German agent sent to set charges on one or more of the four Penstocks during the dark of night (the most vulnerable target that explosives might have a chance to damage) there were some surprises in store! There were some Army soldiers stationed 24/7/365 in the rocks and inside a half dozen machine gun bunkers surrounding the Hoover Dam shortly following the Pearl Harbor attack.

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The Hoover Dam's penstocks are the most vulnerable targets
If you look on the Arizona (eastern) side of Lake Mead up high on the crest of the rocky ridge, you will see a cubical silhouette. This is a the one surviving machine gun emplacement built during World War II. As a major source of electrical power for the defense industry, Boulder Dam (later renamed Hoover Dam in 1947) was considered a primary military target. What you see is last surviving bunker that may one day be cleared of rattle snakes and added to one of the Hoover Dam tours.

The pillbox is constructed of steel and concrete.

This machine gun pillbox –and the ones since dismantled– were constructed of reinforced concrete that was then
veneered with native rock found at each emplacement site blending the bunkers into the craggy cliff walls surprisingly well. The machine gun bunker measures 24 feet long and has six gun ports. It was built by a military police battalion soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor. According to Lincoln Clark of Las Vegas, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, who was stationed at the dam in 1942, he and his fellow soldiers guarded the dam and escorted civilian vehicles across it. Clark retold the story that one soldier was always inside in the bunker, and a squad of riflemen were scattered in the rocks 24-hours a day during the war.

One soldier was always inside in the bunker

The Army soldiers demonstrated the “eternal vigilance” that Oskar Hansen sought to portray in his handsome winged figures, seen by all who cross the dam.

Oskar Hansen sought to portray in his handsome winged figures

Hansen, a creative sculptor, showed his sense of humor one day while at the dam working on the sculptures. A woman asked him how he began such an creative sculpture endeavor. “Madam,” Hansen replied, “when you peel an orange, do you begin by sticking your thumb into its center?” He meant that a sculptor must take all parts of a work into consideration before “peeling” away the unused material.

You will see a cubical silhouette.

Story about the Machine Gun Bunker found on the Internet

“Funny story when i visited the dam. an information panel said that the pillboxes were made and only one remained today but only said that it was on the opposite side from where we were but i couldn’t find it, asked a tour guide they didn’t know where it was but they knew someone who might, the person was a marine sniper stationed at the dam who was off duty. we asked him, he hadn’t seen it but we stirred his curiosity so he grabbed the scope off his gun and his sniper team spotter to help look it for about 10 min they looked but couldn’t find it, which made them feel really embarrassed seeing as their supposed to be the best, then… an older gentlemen came up to us and asked if we were looking for the last remaining pillbox the marine gave him some binoculars and he pointed it out but even then we couldn’t see it. It turned out the elderly man was one of the people who designed the way to camouflage the pillboxes and that at certain times of the day the heated air that causes things to look distorted masked the pillboxes.

Will you know where to look for the machine gun bunker?

How to find the Hoover Dam Machine Gun Pillbox


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