Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Vintage Vegas - Lake Mead in Better Days

At one time, it was unfathomable that Lake Mead might ever fail to support Las Vegas. There was no “bathtub ring,” and there were no worries about water shortages.

Today, we face a much different reality.

When I was a kid, the fact that Lake Mead was the nation’s largest reservoir was a matter of local pride.

My dad told scary stories about the lake that left me wary of going very far from shore: stories about man-sized catfish living close to the dam, people pulled underwater and swept away by the currents, and other PG versions of his bartender tall tales.
Me & Dad at Lake Mead
In my childhood years, my family enjoyed the lake from the safety of the marina (usually Echo Bay or Lake Mead Marina). Each marina had a restaurant and the Lake Mead Marina had a shop where you could buy bags of popcorn or bread to feed the carp, who went into a feeding frenzy almost as soon as the first scrap of food hit the water. My dad once lost a pair of glasses to a carp that had its mouth wide open at just the right moment.

Today, both Lake Mead Marina and Echo Bay Marina are gone from their original locations.

Lake Mead Marina moved and is now a part of what’s called Las Vegas Boat Harbor. In 2007, before it had to move, I was able to take my son to the Lake Mead Marina; it's mostly dry land in this area now.
Lake Mead Marina, 2007, in its original location. See the "bathtub ring" on the hill?
In 2011, my family staycationed at Lake Las Vegas, and we spent our days exploring the lake. We went to Echo Bay, and I was stunned to see how low the water was. I remembered going there as a kid, when the Echo Bay's hotel, restaurant, and bar were busy enough that my dad considered taking a job there.
Echo Bay in 2011
Last year, the Echo Bay Marina closed.  Over the past few months, several news outlets have featured pictures of the structure’s remains left sitting atop the dried-up former lake bed.

Low water levels are changing the appearance of the lake in drastic ways, and for those of us who’ve known Lake Mead for many years, seeing the water levels drop elicits a mix of sadness, fear, and wonder.

Do you remember Lake Mead before the “bathtub ring”?
All pictures by Terrisa Meeks

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