Guests can still see some of the Dam’s guts, but the tours have changed as a result of heightened post-9/11 homeland security. Gone is the detailed “hard hat tour” that led small groups of adventurous guests deep into the dam’s guts, along narrow interior service passages and through inspection tunnels. Guests actually entered the power plant, rather than just viewing it from outside, and came into close proximity with the facility’s humming 133,000-kilowatt generators. Recent additions to the facilities, such as the elaborate new museum building, aim to make up for the changes with more detailed exhibits, and today’s tour-takers get a taste of the art deco architecture and elaborate public works, but the limitations might prove underwhelming to anyone who remembers the pre-2001 tour.
I remember taking an “LTR” bus to Reno for a school band competition. What was “LTR”?
Nevada transportation was once dominated by Sebastian Mikulich’s private freight and passenger service, the Las Vegas-Tonopah-Reno Stage Lines. Mikulich went into business in 1921; soon he was carrying packages and people to Tonopah in a seven-passenger Packard, eventually upgrading to a sweet 10-door Chevy Apache. Over the next six decades, his fleet of white-and-blue buses became a familiar sight, carrying north-south travelers on express runs, ferrying Test Site workers daily between Las Vegas and Mercury under government contract (my dad’s stop was at Mesquite Avenue and Rancho Drive), and shuttling guests between their hotels and McCarran International Airport.
LTR was also the first “grown-up” bus experience for many Nevada children. Local Girl and Boy Scouts rode them to various summer camps; the buses were also chartered by schools for 6 a.m. trips to Disneyland and to move sports teams (and bands) around the state. Arriving at the Clark High School parking lot to a fleet of idling LTRs was a relief when the alternative was an aging Greyhound.
The Mikulich family sold LTR in the 1980s to James Pike, whose subsequent business dealings (including illegal commissions paid to redirect charter business from Gray Line) resulted in insolvency. A restored LTR bus is part of the Pacific Bus Museum collection (PacBus.org), or you can see photos of LTR busses at NorCalBusFans.Fotki.com/Nevada/LTR/.