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The Historic Railroad Trail within Lake Mead National Recreation Area brings us into direct contact with the rich history of Hoover Dam and the creation of Lake Mead. It also provides some outstanding scenic views of the lake and its mountain setting. It is one of Southern Nevada's most unique trail experiences. Come along with us on this virtual hike. The history is as exciting as the recreation opportunities.
Uncover Railroad HistoryWalk, ride a bicycle, or roll a wheelchair along the historic railroad bed previously used to haul materials for the construction of Hoover Dam. The trail features incredible vistas of Lake Mead and Boulder Basin and five tunnels – each approximately 25 feet wide, 30 feet high, and 300 feet long.
The 3.7-mile (one way) Historic Railroad Trail takes us back to 1931 when the federal government partnered with Six Companies, Inc., a consortium of six major western construction firms, to build nearly 30-miles of railroad connecting the Hoover Dam and Boulder City with cement mixing plants, quarry pits, a gravel sorting plant, and other resources in Las Vegas needed to build the dam.
The railroad tracks were dismantled in 1962. This trail was established in 1992, and connection to the Hoover Dam became open to the public in 2007.
The entire trail is considered historically significant. As you begin, look for a rocky road on the south side of the railroad bed. This is believed to be the original road created for the construction of Hoover Dam.
Approaching tunnel #1, on the right, look down the ravine to see concrete plugs taken out of Hoover Dam to install the turbines.
Tunnel #1 has eight sections of vertical supports, five of which have horizontal planks to prevent rocks from falling onto the tracks. Fallen rocks would result in unwanted delays in the 24-hour dam-building schedule.
Tunnels #2 and #5 were damaged in fires in 1990 and 1978 respectively. Shotcrete was sprayed to prevent falling rock where original supports were burned or deformed.
As you near the dam there is the “bone yard” featuring archeological remnants of the original equipment – brought by the railroad - to build the dam.
Last updated: May 31, 2023