Okay, I have to admit it—I wasn’t always Dr. Water. As a kid, if someone floated the idea of taking a “wet and wild” summer vacation, my mind immediately went to the thrills of a water park, carefree days on the beach, or waterskiing at the lake. But, as I became more focused in my life and career, I grew to appreciate the historical significance, beauty and sheer awesomeness of America’s water landmarks. And today, I am thrilled that so many of these sites have become tourist attractions. Here are three of my favorite water-centric vacation destinations showcasing the power, the resilience and longevity of water.
Power: The Hoover Dam
If you want to witness water as one of nature’s most powerful resources, vacation at the border of Arizona and Nevada. And while you’re planning, be prepared to be amazed at the man-power that went into its construction! The Hoover Dam represents true grit, as its building required workers to work long hours in extreme conditions. The dam was built in under five years by thousands of determined Americans. Little did they know then that their creation would become one of the biggest Dams of its time—and produce enough hydroelectric power to serve 1.3 million people… in three states… every year! In addition, the dam’s towers are adorned with breathtaking Norwegian artwork and sculptures, and the site also offers paddle craft and rafting, private tours, special events , and even a wedding venue.
Resilience: The Chicago Water Tower
One of the only buildings to withstand the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the Chicago Water Tower remains an iconic piece of American water infrastructure. Utilizing the tower and tunnel system to Lake Michigan, the Chicago Water Tower’s Chief Engineer, Ellis S. Chesbrough, successfully provided an ample supply of clean water to the growing population in the Windy City. Today, the 859-foot tower stands proud as an engineering marvel and offers tourists and educational, inspirational celebration of water infrastructure as well as Chicago history, art and culture.
Longevity: The Knight Foundry
A trip to Sutter Creek California will bring you face to face with an important piece of water infrastructure named by The National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the most endangered historic places in America. A factory constructed to mold metal, one of the Knight Foundry’s historical claims to fame is being the last water-powered machine shop and foundry built in the U.S. In addition, it is credited as being a monumental contributor in the construction of the state of California—with the foundry used to create everything from turbine systems and other key aspects in building California cities, to light fixtures. If you tour only one Registered Historical Landmark this year, let it be this water-powered wonder!
So, as you look for interesting and unique vacations—this summer or any time of year—remember America’s water infrastructure, and look into visiting destinations with historical pieces of the country’s water industry.