One of the wonders of the Old World, Hoover Dam crosses the Colorado River, impounding Lake Mead to the north. The structure served as one of the most substantial sources of electrical power in the region before and after the war, protected with anti-aircraft weapons.
The Mojave chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel had plans to claim the dam, but became sidetracked at HELIOS One. In the meantime, NCR scouts arrived at Hoover Dam, causing Mr. House to spur into action at the sign of civilization. He sent his Securitron army out onto the New Vegas Strip and rallied the tribals occupying the city, ensuring that when the NCR first reached New Vegas, they would return with stories of a city of lights in the middle of the desert, bringing in the tourist revenue required for Mr. House to carry forward his plans.
He worried about the independence of his new city's power source, but the arrival of Caesar's Legion in the region meant that the NCR could not take the dam and the Strip without leaving them vulnerable to the Legion. Mr. House and the NCR drew up the Treaty of New Vegas, resulting in 95% of the dam's power output going to the NCR, and in return Vegas' sovereignty. Within a year of the treaty, the NCR had the dam running at 50% capacity.[Non-game 1]
In 2277, the Legion, led by the Malpais Legate, attempted to take Hoover Dam, but were defeated shortly after by Chief Hanlon, alongside NCR Rangers and First Recon sharpshooters, who performed a tactical retreat, placing explosives ahead of time to lead and trap the Legion's elite forces in Boulder City, springing the trap and detonating the town and everyone in it. The result was General Oliver able to both successfully hold the dam and push back the Legion's main force. After the Battle of Willow Beach and the Battle of Arizona Spillway, the dam stands once more at the center of the conflict between the two opposing forces, who face the inevitability of a second battle in the near future.[Non-game 3]
To weigh the events in favor of the Republic, Colonel Cassandra Moore and General Lee Oliver have fortified the dam and stationed a significant military presence here to once again face the Legion.[Non-game 3] While troopers are active here, there are also a large number of civilian contractors and engineers who are trying to keep the dam running as smoothly as possible.[Non-game 3]
“It is fitting that the flag of our country should fly here in honor of those men who, inspired by a vision of lonely lands made fruitful, conceived this great work and those others whose genius and labor made that vision a reality.”— Hoover Dam dedication monument
Hoover Dam covers a large area with extensive exterior and interior sections, despite there only being one map marker for the entire location. Following the Colorado River downstream (or coming upstream from Cottonwood Cove), the player character will encounter a pontoon barrier.
The west side of the dam is controlled by the NCR and features the anti-aircraft gun seen on billboards. The fast-travel map marker puts the player character just outside of the entrance to the Hoover Dam visitor center along former Highway 93, south of the Nevada Spillway. Just north of the visitor center building is a stage and viewing area. To the west of the stage is a large anti-aircraft cannon. Across from the visitor center stands the Hoover Dam dedication monument.
Atop the dam
Continuing north along the barricaded road leads to the top of the dam itself. Two towers are along the south edge of the road. Access to Hoover Dam Intake Tower 01 and 02 is via a bridge connected to the north side of the road. The road ends at a checkpoint door which is inaccessible until any of the final quests, such as Eureka!. The checkpoint contains a Very Hard locked terminal and a few lockers with minor loot. It also houses a small sniper nest on the roof, accessible via a ladder.
Base of the dam
Access to the north and south bases of the dam is blocked off by a pontoon barrier constructed with toxic waste barrels, which holds sections of the chain link fence in place along the top of the water. Weights keep the submerged ends in place and the whole structure taut.
The south base of the dam is accessible by descending through interior sections of the dam and exiting from the second tier of either Hoover Dam Power Plant 02 or 04. There are spectacular gushes of water from outflow pipes high up on the east and west walls of the river canyon. It is possible to swim from the west to the east side and climb up on the concrete area by swimming all the way to the south end and walking up the sandbar to the southeast corner.
The east side of the dam is controlled by the Legion. Going west along the barricaded road leads to the top of the dam itself. Access to Hoover Dam Intake Tower 03 and 04 is via a bridge connected to the north side of the road. There are two towers along the south edge of the road; one is ruined. The Arizona Spillway is situated on this side of the dam, south of the roadway.
Hoover Dam saferoom key - One found in each of the three desks in a large T-shaped room between the central and eastern wings of Hoover Dam offices, with another being found in a desk in the room directly to the right after entering through the Hoover Dam power plant 01 door. Opens a saferoom in the second floor of the visitor center that contains nothing of interest.
The head engineer, Mike Lawson, shares that there used to be six turbines running but only four now function. Even though the Courier can swim down to reach the turbines, they cannot be repaired.
When on top of the first sniper tower, the Courier can lock and unlock the ladder. However, it can be used either way.
The NCR rangers walking on the dam do not wear NCR Ranger patrol armor, they wear a lower resolution variant. The insignia on the shoulder is blurry, the water pack on their backs is flat, and rifle-grip weapons do not change position when holstered. Much like the face masks worn by troopers, the armor cannot be looted from their inventory.
There are invisible walls around the area where Kimball speaks. If he is killed and his body ragdolls, this may result in his body flying and bouncing off the invisible walls.
Arcade Gannon will make some comments about the dam when first brought to the area.
It is one of the few locations with fresh water outside as well as inside. The water inside is marked as owned, but inflicts 0 rads.
The dam is mentioned in a Dead Moneyending as well as an ending in Old World Blues.
The Hoover Dam is based on the real world location of Hoover Dam, a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the U.S. states of Nevada and Arizona.
Hoover Dam was originally constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression, and was dedicated in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Originally known as Boulder Dam from 1933 until 1947, it was officially renamed Hoover Dam in 1947 for former President Herbert Hoover.[Non-game 4]
Many sections and landmarks of the real world Hoover Dam are seen in-game, including the towering bronze Winged Figures of the Republic sculptures, plaque and flagpole, dam blueprints, visitor center, spillways, power plants, intake towers, lower levels, architecture, outbuildings, and structure of the dam itself, art deco style, and details in the surrounding area.
The maps of the Hoover Dam scattered around the Mojave are blueprints created in the 1930s and can be seen in the University of Nevada Las Vegas Digital Collections.[Non-game 5]
On the side of one of the stone guard towers is a banner reading, "LEGION GO HOME." This is a reference to the real life slogan "Ami go home," originally a protest from European communists against US occupiers after WWII, later adopted by European peace movements during the Vietnam War and more recently the Gulf War.
The other side of this is a reference to the film Monty Python's Life of Brian wherein the main character writes "Romanes eunt domus," grammatically incorrect for "Romans, go home." He is later corrected by a Roman centurion.[Non-game 6]
During the battle at Hoover Dam, most non-player characters wear masks. This was encouraged by Joshua Sawyer as an attempt to reduce memory usage, since "FaceGen/FaceFX data can be expensive."[Non-game 7]
If the Courier jumps on the artillery cannon, runs down the barrel and jumps, they can go past the game's barrier and go to the bottom of Hoover Dam. Just save before hitting the ground, then load a save. Facing the direction of the river, if the Courier goes on the right side, they can find a door to the Hoover Dam power plant 2 and a door leading to power plant 4. Otherwise, this area of the map is inaccessible. There is an "exit door" in the northeast corner of plants 2 and 4, behind the metal stairway which ascends west to the top of the generator, that can be used to exit to the spillway. One of these doors is also used in the final quest.
At the base of the dam, while it is possible to get above the top of the chain link fence from the water, invisible barriers prevent the player character from actually hopping over it, even when attempted from the cliffs far above the barrier. However, it is possible to jump off the north side of the dam into the water. This places the player character on the opposite side of the pontoon barrier and allows them to swim the length of the Hoover Dam. However, using the console to toggle collisions, then continuing into the northern side of the dam's waters through the pontoon barrier, will cause the game to crash. A one-way ladder upwards is available to return to the top of the dam on the NCR side of the river.
If the Courier jumps down from the Hoover Dam into the water on the north side, and swims as far east as possible until they can't jump/walk any farther, they may begin to hear artillery fire and flying shells even though they have not started the battle at Hoover Dam. In addition to the sound effects, the theme music of Hoover Dam will change to the version heard in one of the end game quests. This music is unique and will not play in any other location in the game.
If the Courier jumps off the north side of Hoover Dam and returns to the top of the dam, the game may glitch and cause things like the artillery cannon to completely disappear and the texture for the road in front of the visitor center to change.
Hoover Dam originally had a pair of water exhaust jets that shot a vast amount of water down into the river below. While these are present in the final game they have been disabled for some reason. The problem with this effect is they cannot be seen at extreme range due to lacking LOD models, meaning the suddenly teleport in out of thin air as one approaches. Looking at the game's intro sequence, these water jets are prominently displayed on shots of the dam, which suggests they are indeed supposed to be on all the time. They were likely removed due to level of detail issues, as the engine does not support animated LOD objects.
There is a long winding road leading to the Legate's Camp, filled with legionaries to fight. However, it is not navmeshed (meaning non-player characters cannot navigate it), and instead contains two triggers that teleport anything that gets stuck in here to either side of the big gates enclosing it. The area also contains numerous improvised crosses and scenery, and is tied to an elaborate script that was supposed to send pairs of legionaries out to reinforce the Legion during the final battle, in a conga line system. It appears that the road to the Legate's camp went through multiple revisions, including fighting up to the camp directly, being used as storage for legionaries to use in the battle, before the developers simply axed the whole section and replaced it with gates that teleport the player character from the edge of the Dam directly to the camp.
There were supposed to be Followers medics helping injured NCR soldiers during the endgame fight, if one convinced Julia Farkas to help the NCR. The NPC exists as VFSFollowersDamDoctor, and his dialogue exists in VDialogueHooverDam.
There is an unused empty interior map called "Arizona Spillway Tunnel" (HooverDamIntArizonaSpillway) and Cass has unused dialogue referring to it. The Arizona Spillway is visible in the game, although it cannot be entered.
Originally there would be gun turrets at Hoover Dam. There are full scripts and messages (vHDLVLTurretScript, vHDTurretMessageNCR01, vHDTurretMessageNCR01b, etc) that show they would be initially disabled in the conflict, and one could then repair them to help fight against the Legion. In the final game there are no gun turrets anywhere near the dam.
There is a lot of reworked and/or redundant code tied to the endgame in the game's ESM, representing several implementations, iterations, and revisions, particularly of the reinforcement code. It is difficult to reverse engineer, but it is clear that the original scope of the battle had to be greatly reduced to cope with memory and processing power limitations on consoles (similar to how wounded NCR soldiers were removed from the no man's land between Nelson and Camp Forlorn Hope to accommodate Dead Money additions).
↑The Courier: "Whatever you believe happened, you have it wrong." Ulysses: "It was you walking that road that kept the Divide alive. It grew from what you did. Settlers... camps... filling that Old World city. Chance for a new nation, new beginning. New way of thinking.Could've breathed new life into the Mojave, bridging East, West. Like Hoover Dam... but not Old World, something you made. Road was a supply line." (Ulysses' dialogue)
↑Courier: "What can you tell me about Hoover Dam?" Monroe: "It's one of the biggest sources of electrical power in the region, so the NCR's fortified the place pretty heavily. When President Kimball shows up on his inspection tour, I'm sure he'll be confident that the Dam is safe and secure." The Courier: "The President is coming to Hoover Dam?" Monroe: "It's probably just a political thing - you know, give a few speeches, shake hands with the troops, boost morale." (Monroe's dialogue)
↑The Courier: "What preparations did you make to save Las Vegas?" Robert House: "On the day of the Great War, 77 atomic warheads targeted Las Vegas and its surrounding areas. My networked mainframes were able to predict and force-transmit disarm code subsets to 59 warheads, neutralizing them before impact. Laser cannons mounted on the roof of the Lucky 38 destroyed another 9 warheads. The rest got through, though none hit the city itself. A sub-optimal performance, admittedly. If only the Platinum Chip had arrived a day sooner..." (Robert House's dialogue)
↑ 8.08.1Dennis Crocker: "In 2274, President Kimball sent the NCR army into the Mojave in force, with the objective of occupying and repairing Hoover Dam. Rangers and army scouts had confirmed that the dam was basically unoccupied and could be restored to an operable condition. Upon arriving at the dam, however, they discovered that a large force of tribals and robots had occupied it. This was our introduction to the Three Families, the Securitrons, and, of course, Mr. House. Using his Securitrons as intermediaries, Mr. House called for parlay. He claimed his forces had occupied Hoover Dam in order to safeguard it for our arrival. And that he was ready to turn it over to us, so long as we could agree to terms. Those terms became the Treaty of New Vegas." (Crocker's dialogue)
↑The Courier: "Why is the Brotherhood interested in Nevada?" Veronica Santangelo: "It was the Dam, really. We'd heard rumors it was working. Figured we could claim it, put it to use. And... it may also have been partly that our Elder at the time had worn out his welcome. Didn't end up mattering. We got sidetracked at HELIOS One and the NCR took the Dam in the meantime. We're still after it, though. In theory." (Veronica Santangelo's dialogue)
↑ 10.010.1The Courier: "How did you establish New Vegas?" Robert House: "We can discuss this in greater detail at another time. Suffice it to say that when my Securitrons detected NCR scouts at Hoover Dam, I took action. I recruited a tribal force to supplement my Securitrons and renovated the Strip just in time to welcome the NCR as it marched into the region. Instead of war, a treaty was negotiated. And the money started to pour in." (Robert House's dialogue)
↑The Courier: "Where does New Vegas get all its electricity?" Robert House: "Hoover Dam, of course. A hydroelectric dam? The NCR had it up and running at 50% capacity within a year of occupying the dam. By treaty, New Vegas receives 5% of its output - more than enough." (Robert House's dialogue)
↑The Courier: "What can you tell me about Hoover Dam?" Cassandra Moore: "It's of immense strategic value to the NCR. Hoover Dam sends enough electricity west to light every city and major settlement. It's moderately defensible, with a single point of entry on the east side. To get to the power plants below, the enemy has to cross the entire top. The Legion's tried to cross the water on a few occasions, but slow-moving boats make easy targets for sharpshooters." (Cassandra Moore's dialogue)
↑ 13.013.1The Courier: "What happened to Boulder City?" Monroe: "Destroyed during the Battle of Hoover Dam a couple of years ago. The town was set up as a trap for Caesar's Legion. The sharpshooters in the Rangers picked off the Legion's veterans from a distance, and the rest of the Legion just rushed on in. Then - boom!" (Monroe's dialogue)
↑The Courier: "How did you end up as Caesar's legate?" Joshua Graham: "This way lies the path to hell. Edw- Caesar needed me to translate. Translation became giving orders. Giving orders became leading in battle. Leading in battle became training, punishing, terrorizing. A series of small mistakes before a great fall. And I stayed in that darkness until after Hoover Dam. After I failed Caesar and he had me burned alive, thrown into the Grand Canyon." (Joshua Graham's dialogue)
↑The Courier: "General Oliver, Hoover Dam is ours. Leave at once." Lee Oliver: "I would sooner spit on the grave of my dead mother than let some courier-walk-the-wasteland-fuck talk to me like that. Who the hell do you think you are? Looking to cash your chips to the sound of NCR bullets, eh? I can oblige." The Courier: "Are you sure that's wise?" Lee Oliver: "Look, I know you're riding high right now, but let me tell you - you ain't pissing on me right now, you're pissing on the Bear. You been far enough West I'm guessing to know how far that claw stretches. Fuck with the Bear, and..." The Courier: "How about I ask these robots to fuck you and your entire battalion with a rocket barrage?" Lee Oliver: "Do you know what you're doing? Making a nation - like you think you're doing, ain't like chowing down on a pile of Fancy Lad Snack Cakes. Think you got the guts to carve out a frontier? Build towns, protect the roads, run supplies, train troops?" (Lee Oliver's dialogue)
↑Courier: "How is the dam running these days?" Mike Lawson: "Been better, been worse. When I first came here there was but one turbine spinning. At one point shortly after the last battle I had six of them spinning, was a wonderful sound. Only four of them are running right now." (Mike Lawson's dialogue)
↑ 1.01.1Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide Collector's Edition p.458: "Controversy over the Vegas Frontier The NCR spread east into Nevada in large numbers just five years ago on a 'humanitarian mission' to 'bring the light of civilization to the savage wastes of the Mojave.' Hoover Dam was the symbol of the expedition-reports from the Followers of the Apocalypse had confirmed that it was still intact as early as 2170-and its occupation by NCR troops in 2274 was a celebrated event. Even more exciting was the restarting of the dam's hydroelectric plant eleven months later, which dramatically improved the access of many NCR citizens to electricity and water. Since then, most of the news has been bad. Skirmishes with local tribes and the first battle for Hoover Dam have cost the lives of more than 400 of the NCR's soldiers and civilians. Until the oft-promised annexation of New Vegas becomes a reality, the government continues to spend much of its budget on 'safeguarding the region' while in return receiving not one Cap in tax revenue. The expedition has proved to be an enduring, low-intensity political embarrassment for President Kimball. Among NCR citizens, the most common political attitude is impatience. They want Vegas annexed; they want it over with. Most expect that this will finally occur once Caesar's Legion has been 'beat for good.' Opposition to the Vegas occupation amounts to a vocal minority, and of these, most oppose it as a waste of lives and tax caps. The more radical opinion that the expedition amounts to the imperialist subjugation of an unwilling territory is seen as unpatriotic: the kind of pap spouted by the good-for-nothing agitators like those Followers of the Apocalypse." (Behind the Bright Lights & Big City)
↑Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide Collector's Edition p. 43: "Brotherhood of Steel" "The Mojave Brotherhood operated freely amid the Vegas wastes for several years, carrying out many reclamation missions without serious opposition. The balance of power shifted in 2251, when a large contingent of NCR troops entered the region and occupied Hoover Dam. Conflict was inevitable. Nearly two years of guerilla skirmishes culminated in a pitched battle at HELIOS One, a solar energy plant the Brotherhood had been refurbishing for several months with the goals of bringing it back online and activating its hidden offensive capabilities (the ARCHIMEDES II death ray)." (Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide faction profiles)
↑ 3.03.13.2Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide Collector's Edition p.372-376: "[3.33] Hoover Dam All of the Main Quest in Act III centers around this location, as do the Main Quests involving the visit of President Aaron Kimball. A stronghold of extreme strategic importance for centuries, this location has seen recent turmoil between major Faction too. A few years before current events, Caesar's Legion rolled in, led by ex-Mormon missionary Joshua Graham, Caesar's Legate. Not considering NCR's army to be a serious threat, Graham exercised somewhat lax control over the Legion. During the Battle of Hoover Dam, NCR Rangers and Sharpshooters from First Recon employed risky tactics against the Legion with the help of the enlisted Troopers, and despite horrific loss of life, Caesar's forces were pushed back, but not routed. The NCR has been holding the dam continuously since, and have fortified positions along the dam and up and down the west side of the Colorado River. Recently, the Legion pushed the NCR off of the east side of the river at the Battle of Willow Beach (which destroyed an NCR military camp) and the Battle of Arizona Spillway. Day to day military operations at the dam are under the command of Colonel Moore. While troopers are active here, there are also a large number of civilian contractors who are trying to keep the dam running. They are of a secondary concern to Moore, who is preparing from for an impending attack by Caesar and a visit by President Kimball." (Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide Collector's Edition Tour of the Mojave Wasteland)