Stranding on the edge of the Hoover Dam, a copper blue cable artifact

I can't say I'm quite as juiced about knowing that it's possible to buy a slice of copper electrical cable that once hung over the Hoover Dam gorge, but seeing Mack Reed of Heavy Little Objects get so excited about it has rubbed off on me:
This is almost the holy grail of heavy little objects: a thing with history, patina, functionality, exciting manufacture and moving parts. Jesus, it made me one happy tool-using ape to find this: a chunk of the original copper electrical transmission line installed during construction of the mighty Hoover Dam.
I can't actually find where you can buy a segment for yourself. There doesn't appear to be a listing on the Bureau of Reclamation's Hoover Dam page. Maybe you have to go to Nevada and buy it on site?
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17 Responses to Stranding on the edge of the Hoover Dam, a copper blue cable artifact

  1. gregger says:

    Awesome… I have to listen to some Sugar / Bob Mould now as well…

    A friend of mine got to meet Bob and gave me a signed copy of his new(ish) CD District Line. It’s pretty dang good!

    I totally want a section of that cable now too.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I used to work at the Hoover Dam doing tourist photos. They sold them during part of the tour as pen holders. They might be available through the gift shop, but definitely if you take the tour.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I bought one piece on site in 2007 and it’s on my working desk since that. In the Middle of the Europe, in Czech Republic, in Beroun, in hotel Na Ostrove, where I work. I hate souvenirs in general, but this piece I love very much.

  4. claud9999 says:

    #3: correct (at least in 2007 when I was there.)

    I have my little segment of history on my window sill at work. At some point it was worth more in raw copper than the $5 I was charged for it (I think it was only $5. I was amazed at how cheap it was.)

    Note to visitors, leave EARLY. Traffic gets crazy.

  5. strider_mt2k says:

    Dam traffic…

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hooray for a gratuitous Sugar reference!

  7. wastrel says:

    AH you just made my day. And killed my productivity – I used to read Mack’s blog but lost track of it a couple years ago. Soooo now I have a lot of backlog to catch up on. I’m sorry for all the bad stuff I said about you Joel <3.

  8. devophill says:

    Why did no one tell me Heavy Little Objects was back?? I’ve missed it, Mack!

  9. Enochrewt says:

    Can I tell a silly Hoover Dam story?

    When I was 14 or so, we took a family trip there. My step-sister was wearing those cheap plastic/gel shoes that were the trend back in the eighties, and it was so hot on top of the dam that the shoes literally melted to her feet and had to be cut off at the hospital.

    Good story huh?

  10. mack says:

    Joel – yeah, I dug around online and couldn’t find it, but if you visit the Hoover Dam you’ll find the Memorabilia kiosk tucked well away from the Gift Shop and Center, nestled in under a parking garage ramp near the crappers. It’s literally a tiny window marked “Memorabilia” behind which sits a well-seasoned Bureau of Reclamation historian who does nothing but shuffle important-looking paperwork and sell reclaimed copper dinguses to hopeless geeks who stumble upon him.

  11. mack says:

    Dam traffic indeed.

    When we left Hoover Dam around 11:30 a.m. Sunday, traffic was backed up for about 3 single-lane miles, and c-r-a-w-l-i-n-g across the dam.

    When they eventually finish the insanely lofty bypass bridge over the gorge (which looks like this right now), it’ll probably get hella easier for bleary Vegas escapees to visit after sleeping off their hangovers.

  12. Beast of Eden says:

    I got the same pen-holder chunk at the gift store after taking the Hoover Dam tour in 2004. February was a much nicer time to visit Las Vegas, where the chatty tour bus drivers just tell you about how quickly you’ll die in the summer if you don’t take water on your hikes.

    The cable is quite beautiful, especially in having the interlinked segments that slide and interlink to make the cylinder. A small caveat – don’t put it in your carry-on luggage when you leave. The people at the airport were polite, but clearly on edge about ‘there is a dense metal cylinder showing up in your bag sir, do you have any idea what it might be?’ Clearly it was a relative rarity, as none of the DHS folks remembered seeing one before.

  13. mack says:

    Been back for about a year after a loooong hiatus. (waves shamelessly)

    And drooling fanboy kudos to Joel for the double-triple Sugar pun. Bob and the Huskers were my hedge against madness in the previous millennium. Broke my nose slamdancing at a Husker Du show at a disused asbestos-removal training facility in Philadelphia. True story.

  14. mavrc says:

    I too got a hunk of this cable back in August ’07. When I was there, they were selling both pieces of the cable and some copper coins that were struck from other reclaimed copper (from some decomissioned switching gear, or something like that.) They were selling them right from the gift shop counter at that time, and they were both surprisingly cheap. Back then they were selling them on some Bureau website too, which is the only reason I knew about them – they didn’t draw much attention to them at the gift shop.

    And yeah, it was insanely hot, and the traffic was completely absurd. I had no idea it would be quite so bad.

  15. kiltreiser says:

    Bah, now I have to go and listen to Sugar. Just when I was starting to get some work done as well…

  16. mattzog says:

    This was like a perfect storm of Bob Mouldery.

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