That Dam Bridge

Three years ago, I attempted to walk over this dam bridge over the Colorado River, the second highest bridge in the United States.


The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

The bridge was built in 2010 and connects Nevada and Arizona to bypass the Hoover Dam. The distance across the bridge  is roughly the same as 2 average-length par 4s on the golf course – 1,900 feet.   I was optimistic and full of good intentions as I set out.

It was December, a crisp and sunny morning, and I began walking in the middle of the wide sidewalk on the north side of the bridge.  Since the bridge is flat with no apex to worry about I was encouraged about how far I might make it.  There was no one on the bridge but me although I was on a 30-person tour.  The others were either hanging back reading the plaques at the beginning of the bridge or had walked up to a dam viewing area.

A very short distance out, I felt like I was a miniature Christmas caroler in a snow globe.  I was encapsulated in a bright blue, shiny world that seemed finite and infinite all at once. I was just a bit player under this overwhelming sky.  Everything was wide open and shockingly expansive. The rock cliffs were giants. The long view to the north beyond the dam could be miles away or hundreds of miles away.  Or maybe if I stuck out my finger it I could touch it.  I couldn’t tell.

The scene before me seemed to move and I though it might get close enough to touch me.  I couldn’t move. The earth and everything on it seemed to twist and I wanted to straighten it like a painting on the wall.  I couldn’t find myself.  Nothing seemed solid or secure.

I feared if I tried to hold the railing for safety and to stabilize myself that certainly I’d go over the edge or worse the very edge of the sidewalk would crumble away and I’d fall into this huge crevasse.

A few people walked passed me, seemingly unaware of the danger here. Cars whizzed across the bridge.  I turned around and walked gingerly to the beginning of the bridge.  Once I was off the bridge and in the small park-like area the world righted itself immediately.

Later, when I stood on the Hoover Dam, which didn’t bother me nearly as much as the bridge, and looked up to where I’d  stood, I was afraid again and wondered why I’d purposely chosen to have been on that damn bridge.  But I was equally a happy I’d tried.  


The Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge with the Hoover Dam in the foreground.