weather icon Clear

Book takes look at Lake Mead

From the time she was growing up in El Cajon, Calif., Erin Eichenberg has been fascinated with archaeology.

She credits her aunt with piquing her interest in the outdoors at a young age, and she carried her penchant for petroglyphs and archaeology to UNLV, where she received a degree in anthropology. Now, as a 33-year-old museum specialist for the National Park Service, Eichenberg published a picture-friendly, historical book titled “Lake Mead.”

The book, published by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press, takes readers through a visual history of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Eichenberg, who began working for the Park Service as an archaeological technician in 2007, was contacted by staff at the Boulder City-Hoover Dam Museum to see if she would be interested in writing a book about Lake Mead.

“I was excited because I thought about contacting (Arcadia) prior,” she said. “Throughout the years I’ve been scanning our historic photo collection, and I wanted to share them with people.”

Eichenberg spent six months working on the book, poring over more than 3,000 photos from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Boulder City-Hoover Dam Museum, the Park Service and the Bureau of Reclamation, which she narrowed down to a 128-page book featuring 148 black-and-white pictures.

While juggling her full-time Park Service job and digging through archives for her book, Eichenberg worked on her master’s thesis for her distant learning program in the United Kingdom.

“Once you start reading it, it kind of blows your mind,” Eichenberg said about her book. “The main challenge was trying not to replicate material from other books.”

“Lake Mead” begins with photos of prehistoric animal bones, and 13-million-year-old sedimentary rock at the Horse Spring Formation. Readers learn how the area was created after Hoover Dam was completed in 1935.

Each photo has a brief caption describing it.

“Some people don’t like to read a lot of text, so they can read the caption. … It serves the purpose for a different group of people,” she said.

While browsing the pages, readers gain a better understanding of early settlers, including the hunter-gatherers who came to Southern Nevada 11,000 years ago.

Photos of St. Thomas, the town that flooded in 1938 once Lake Mead began to fill, are included. Originally settled by Mormon pioneers in 1865, the government purchased homes in St. Thomas because after the dam was completed, flooding of the town was inevitable. Because of the recent drought, some of the town’s artifacts have re-emerged from the lake.

The book also focuses on the importance of Lake Mead in recreational postwar-America. In 1964, it was designated as the Park Service’s first recreation area, and annually maintains top-10 visitation throughout the service’s 400 units with an average of 6.5 million visitors a year.

Eichenberg wanted to share the photos that are rarely seen by the public. She said she even learned new things while compiling the book.

“I didn’t realize the expense of the planning that went into Hoover Dam, and how much extra planning came into getting the recreation area created,” she said. “A lot of other people don’t know how the recreation area came to be, and how these other things around it influenced how the park was formed.”

“Working with Erin on ‘Lake Mead’ was such a wonderful experience. Her knowledge and expertise from working at the park really shines through in the book,” said Ginny Rasmussen, title manager for Arcadia Publishing. “Through historic photographs, she has captured the history behind what has become one of America’s most popular recreation areas.”

“Lake Mead” was released Feb. 2.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Risk of water shortages projected

An increased risk of potential water shortages in the Colorado River Basin is expected for the next five years, according to projections released earlier this week by the Bureau of Reclamation.

New agreement boosts hydropower, supports energy production

Several government agencies recently solidified their commitment to provide reliable hydropower to support the electrical systems in the nation.

Conservation efforts aid reservoir

Colorado River water operations will remain the same for Southern Nevadans next year despite Lake Mead being below the level needed to stay out of the drought contingency plan.

Utah pipeline likely won’t affect Lake Mead

A proposed pipeline in Utah could divert approximately 86,000 acre feet of water annually from Lake Mead, but it will most likely not harm the overall water level in the reservoir.

Hoover Dam marks 85th anniversary of final concrete pour

On Friday, May 29, Hoover Dam celebrates a unique anniversary. It will have been 85 years since the last of the concrete was poured for the project.

Rescue efforts at lake save 12 from capsized boat

Weather, including strong winds and flash flooding, resulted in more than 80 incidents at Lake Mead National Recreation Area on Sunday, May 10, including two capsized vessels.

Visitors flock to Lake Mead

Tired of being cooped up at home, visitors swarmed Lake Mead National Recreation Area on Saturday, May 2, after the park opened to annual pass holders.

Lake Mead remains popular tourist attraction

For the third consecutive year, Lake Mead National Recreation Area has ranked as the National Park Service’s sixth-most-visited recreation site.

Eagle eyes keep bird count accurate

When it comes to counting bald eagles, technology has to take a back seat to good old-fashioned fieldwork. At Lake Mead National Recreation Area, that means biologists, binoculars and boats.