By Victoria K. Sicaras
ARBOR DAY FARM IN NEBRASKA CITY, NEB.
Explore nature while learning how trees alleviate air and water pollution, lower urban temperatures, and control erosion. Attractions include a 50-foot tree house, apple orchids, trails, outdoor classrooms, a greenhouse, guided tours, and a nearby 18-hole golf course. The nature-inspired lodge — complete with spa, fitness center, and indoor pool — demonstrates sustainable practices. www.arbordayfarm.org.
HOOVER DAM, BOULDER CITY, NEV.
Guided tours go behind the scenes to show the inner workings of the dam. Or see the new public works landmark taking shape about 1,500 feet downstream: The Colorado River Bridge will connect the Nevada and Arizona sides of the new highway that will bypass the dam, while offering a magnificent view. Below the dam is a launch site where paddle craft such as canoes, kayaks, or rafts can be launched for a trip down the river. www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam.
BALTIMORE PUBLIC WORKS MUSEUM IN MARYLAND
The world's only public works museum is housed in an historic, and still working, pumping station. Discover how cities survived without clean water, indoor plumbing, roads, and bridges; and learn how these needs are met by cities today. Children can explore the interactive “construction set” and build their own structures, or crawl through real manholes at the outdoor “Streetscape” display. Washington, D.C., is less than 40 miles away. Under renovation for the winter season, the museum is scheduled to reopen in July. www.baltimorepublicworksmuseum.org.
PETER NORBECK SCENIC BYWAY IN SOUTH DAKOTA
We cited Japan's Kawazu-Nanadaru Loop Bridge as “possibly the only rollercoaster bridge in the world” (September 2008, “Engineering wonders,” page 64). But reader Jim Palmer, PE, suggested the pigtail bridges — specifically, a corkscrew spiral bridge on Highway 244 leading to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Located in the Black Hills, the bridges were built in the 1930s to connect Iron Mountain Road's stone tunnels (one of which frames the presidents on Mount Rushmore). Nearby attractions include Custer State Park and Crazy Horse Mountain. www.travelsd.com.
ROYAL GORGE BRIDGE AND PARK, CAÑON CITY, COLO.
This city park boasts the world's highest suspension bridge. Glide more than 1,100 feet above the Royal Gorge's canyon floor in the single-span aerial tram, take a ride on the incline railway to the canyon floor, or free-fall over the Arkansas River via the park's skycoaster. Other attractions include horseback riding, a children's carousel, a re-enactment-style mountaineer encampment, a petting zoo, and a wildlife park. Campsites and a lodge are located onsite. www.royalgorgebridge.com.